New York State IPM Program

May 12, 2016
by Mary M. Woodsen
1 Comment

April Was the Cruelest Month: Hard Freeze in Fruit Orchards

Imagine a winter rather like this past one. A winter where February behaved like March (mostly) and March impersonated April. A delight to be sure. But not for the fruit grower with an eye on the weather. Not in New York; not anywhere in the Northeast or parts of the upper Midwest, for that matter. If growers made it through that sudden plunge on Valentines Day (which wiped out the peach crop in the upper Hudson Valley and several other northeastern states), it was time to start worrying all over again. Because along came April — an ordinary April. An April with nighttime temps that dropped like a stone in a well.

"Old temp" means the lowest temperature blossoms can endure, undamaged, for 30 minutes.

“Old temp” is the lowest temperature blossoms can endure, undamaged, for 30 minutes.

Whether they grow apples or pears, cherries or blueberries, growers might (even now) have reason to worry. They’ll likely get a decent crop this year if their orchards are sited on slopes with good air drainage, just-right soils that help slow bud-break, and the moderating influence of nearby lakes or oceanfront. And then there’s the simple fact that, for apples and pears (peaches too) at least, one viable blossom per cluster is about all a tree needs for a good crop. The trees might lose 90 percent of their blossoms, but growers don’t have to go back and thin them when the trees set fruit — Mother Nature just did it for them. (This rule of thumb doesn’t work for cherry or blueberry growers, though what mix of varieties they grow can make a big difference at harvest time.)

Growers in the most vulnerable locations did any or all of these four things:

  • Checked their Extension specialists’s email posts for advice.
  • Stocked up on fuel for smudge pot or burn piles.
  • Prayed for a temperature inversion.
  • Put up wind towers or called their helicopter pilot.

The Extension specialist (in this case Peter Jentsch, senior Extension associate at Cornell’s Hudson Valley Research Lab) probably said that smudge pots or small, strategically placed fires — 40 to 60 per acre — could help, raising ground temperature just enough to squeak by. “Strategically” means on the upwind side of the block. “Squeak by” means raising ground temps by about 3°. If 3° won’t do it, he would’ve said, don’t bother. And minus a temperature inversion — a canopy of slightly warmish air blanketing the cold air below it — don’t set up the wind machine or call the helicopter pilot. All it would do is blow more frigid air around, drying out buds and growing tips.

Smudge pots, strategically placed, can help raise temperatures just enough to make a difference.

Smudge pots, strategically placed, raise temperatures just enough to make a difference.

If there’s an inversion, those heaters and small fires might also have helped. Note that Jentsch didn’t say “bonfire.” Too hot a blaze could punch through to the inversion layer, depleting it. And growers who work on a big-enough scale might have turned on their wind machines or called an experienced pilot, because when it’s not too windy it could be worth a trip to the skies. The premise: a helicopter hovering overhead pulls down that warmish air. The ‘copter’s thermometer tells where and how the temperature shifts as it gains altitude. Depending on how much it shifts and how thick the canopy is, the decision is — is it worth paying big bucks to mix up?

April is past; May has begun. Jentsch is in touch with growers and other Extension specialists all through the Hudson Valley and beyond. “It’s not all the doom and gloom,” he says. “Growers with the best sites and mix of crops seem to be doing all right.” Still, it’s sobering to think about the effect two days at the wrong time can have, Jentsch says. “For the growers who got hammered, it can throw a their livelihood into a tailspin for many months to come.”

So there you have it — an April rather like this one. Normal in every way but one — that it followed so mild a winter.

February 17, 2016
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on IPM Rewards Excellence — the Ten Eyck Connection

IPM Rewards Excellence — the Ten Eyck Connection

Each year we seek nominees for our Excellence in IPM awards. We look for people who make a difference, whether on farms, in communities, or at research sites across New York; people who care about human and ecological health and resilience.  Sometimes the abundance of stellar candidates amazes us. This was one of those years.

Take Peter Ten Eyck. Farmers, legislators, researchers —Ten Eyck is in touch with them all. He practices what he preaches at 320-acre Indian Ladder Farm south of Albany, having used IPM protocols for decades on his organic vegetables and berries — and Eco-Apple certification protocols on his main crop, apples.

Peter Ten Eyck's passion: sustainably grown apples.

Peter Ten Eyck’s passion: sustainably grown apples. (Photo credit www.timesunion.com)

“Legendary.” That’s how Cooperative Extension educator Dan Donahue describes Ten Eyck’s insights and influence at the local, regional, and state level, including twelve years of past service as a Cornell University trustee. “Challenges the status quo,” says Juliet Carroll, fruit coordinator with NYS IPM — citing Ten Eyck’s willingness to take risks to protect the environment from needless pesticides. “Inquisitive; outstanding; stays on top of the research — and a good steward of the land,” says Tom Burr, a Cornell professor of plant pathology, citing Ten Eyck’s influence on others ranging from fellow farmers to state legislators. Check him out.

January 16, 2015
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on Back to School for Fruit Growers | IPM and More

Back to School for Fruit Growers | IPM and More

Kicking off February, two Lake Ontario Winter Fruit Schools back to back:

February 2, 2015
8:00 am 4:00 pm
Niagara County CCE Training Center, 4487 Lake Ave., Lockport, NY 14094

February 3, 2015
8:00 am 4:00 pm
Wayne County, Quality Inn, 125 North Main St., Newark, NY 14513

You’ll learn about recent research results, new pest issues, disease control, new technologies, and fruit-supply topics that will help you compete in the ever-changing marketplace — and produce high quality fruit. Workshop leaders include guest speakers from the Cornell faculty and the Lake Ontario Fruit Program team. Also included: a concurrent session for Spanish speaking employees at the same locations. Lunch is included in the cost of registration.

Pests are ever-present in our orchards and vineyards. Go Back to School for helpful info.

Pests are ever-present in our orchards and vineyards. Go Back to School for helpful info.

Here’s the complete schedule for both events. Find registration info here: monroe.cce.cornell.edu/events. (The Wayne County info really is there, but on some browser windows it’s hidden under the photo on the left.)

More fruit schools the following week in Northern NY and the Hudson Valley:

February 9, 2015, The Northeast NY Commercial Tree Fruit School, The Fort William Henry Hotel & Conference Center, Lake George, NY. More info, registration:

February 10 – 12, 2015, The Lower Hudson Valley Commercial Fruit Growers’ School, Garden Plaza Hotel, Kingston, NY.  More info, registration.

Are you a vegetable grower?

Stay tuned for several vegetable schools later in February.

November 18, 2014
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on For New Invasive Lanternfly, Best IPM Tool is Your Eyes

For New Invasive Lanternfly, Best IPM Tool is Your Eyes

Spotted lanternfly, aka Lycorma delicatula — put it on your radar now. True, as far as we know it’s not in New York. Yet. And with winter blowing in, any likelihood of seeing it this year is grows smaller by the day. But considering the havoc this new invasive could wreak if it breaks through the quarantine in Berks County, Pennsylvania, this is one pest to remember. And — especially if you’ve been in southeastern Pennsylvania of late — you can take action now.

Yes, it's pretty. Pretty bad. Even though it's probably not in New York yet, scout now for egg masses (below); next year for nymphs and adults. Photo credit: L. Barringer, PA Dep't of Agriculture.

Yes, it’s pretty. Pretty bad. Though it’s probably not in NY yet, scout now for egg masses; next year for nymphs and adults.
Photo credit: L. Barringer, PA Dept of Agriculture.

This pest lays egg masses — beginning in September and up till the onset of winter — on just about anything with a smooth surface. So check your truck or camper, or any smooth-surfaced outdoor furniture or equipment you picked up during your travels. Here’s what to look for: a grey, puttylike, waxy coating over a mass of seedlike eggs that look as if they’re trying to poke through it.

What’s at risk? Apples. Grapes. Peaches. Dogwoods. Lilacs. All told, this natty but nasty critter (adults and nymphs alike are handsome little devils) hammers 70-plus species of smooth-barked trees and shrubs — plants we rely on for everything from apple pie and fine wine to the beauty they bring our yards and landscapes. And right now, our eyes are the best IPM tool we have for keeping this pest at bay.

Like a waxy gray putty — that's what you're scouting for to find hitchhiking egg masses. Photo credit: L. Barringer, PA Dep't of Agriculture.

Like a waxy gray putty — that’s what you’re scouting for to find hitchhiking egg masses. Photo credit: L. Barringer, PA Dept of Agriculture.

Actually, spotted lanternfly isn’t a fly. Not even a moth, though with wings spread it sure looks like one. It’s what entomologists call a “true bug” — an insect that pierces a plant with specially adapted mouthparts that suck up sap, rather as we might drink soda with a straw. But that sap is a plant’s lifeblood. Get enough sap-sucking bugs on your grapevines or cherry trees, and you’ve got a problem on your hands.

True, lanternfly gets around by hopping and seems not to move quickly on its own, despite the adults’ pretty wings. Problem is, this adaptable pest can hitchhike unseen on just about anything — not just on trucks cars and campers but flowerpots or outdoor furniture. Suddenly, Berks County doesn’t seem so far away.

New York’s orchards and vineyards alone contribute about $330 million to the state’s economy. When you factor in the value fine wines and grape juice, peaches and cherries, landscape and forest trees and shrubs, it looks lots worse. So of course we’ll remind you about spotted lanternfly next spring.

If you think you found egg masses, take a photo, scrape some off, place your sample in alcohol or hand sanitizer in a leak proof container and report to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Division of Plant Industry at 518-457-2087 or via email at plants@agriculture.ny.gov. Think you’ve seen the bug itself? Do the same photo-hand sanitizer-report-it thing. Now.

 

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