NEWA in Massachusetts – meet your coordinator

Jon Clements
NEWA MA Coordinator
Extension Tree Fruit Specialist
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Jon has been working in tree fruit research and Extension for nearly 30 years. First, at the University of Vermont as a Field Research Technician beginning in 1989 where he minded the University Orchards and worked with faculty on various research and Extension grants, including one of the first SARE (formerly known as LISA) funded projects, “A Low Input Management System for Sustainable Apple Production.” While at UVM, Jon also received his M.S. Degree in Plant & Soil Sciences while researching productivity and fruit quality of McIntosh apple trees under varying pruning regimes. Them in 1998 Jon accepted the role of Berrien County Extension Horticulture Agent at Michigan Sate University where he worked with fruit and vegetable growers in the County on mostly horticultural production of apples, pears, peaches, and cherries.

In 2000 Jon and his family moved back to New England when offered the position of Extension Tree Fruit Specialist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Now he provides Massachusetts apple, pear, and peach growers with horticultural, Integrated Pest Management, and orchard technology information and advice for them to remain productive and profitable in the face of increased urbanization and weather-based production challenges. Jon also plants and cares for fruit trees at the UMass Orchard in Belchertown where he is based, for applied research and demonstration of new varieties, planting systems, plant growth regulators, and nutrient management. Massachusetts was the 3rd State to join NEWA (after NY and VT) and Jon is constantly pushing his growers to look at new technology as a way of better managing pests and improving production, including the use of decision-support applications provided by NEWA and others.

Jon Clements collaborates with the New York State IPM Program to provide NEWA to growers in MA and is the state-wide coordinator for anyone in this state interested in learning more about this online decision aid system.

NEWA in Pennsylvania – meet your state coordinator

Rob Crassweller
NEWA PA Coordinator
Professor of Horticulture, State Extension Specialist for Tree Fruit
Penn State University
I have been at Penn State since 1984 and prior to that was at the University of Georgia from 1980 through 1983. Did my undergraduate work at Miami University in Oxford, OH in Botany. I received my Horticulture graduate degrees at Ohio State University working under Dr. Dave Ferree. My primary areas of expertise are tree fruit rootstocks, training systems, cultivars and plant nutrition. In the late 1980’s I was part of the PSU team that developed expert systems for orchard management that released the Penn State Apple Orchard Consultant (PSAOC) program. This could be considered a forerunner of the NEWA products. I oversee approximately 11 acres of research/teaching orchards at Rock Springs in central Pennsylvania about 10 miles from the main campus.
Rob Crassweller collaborates with the New York State IPM Program to provide NEWA to growers in PA and is the state-wide coordinator for anyone in this state interested in learning more about this online decision aid system.


Exposing your weather station to the elements

Weather station maintenance is very important for gathering accurate weather data, but it is just as important to make sure your well-maintained instrument is properly placed without any shade throughout the day.

NEWA apple carbohydrate thinning and apple irrigation models are heavily dependent on solar radiation data from fully exposed sensors.  A weather station that reports erroneously low solar radiation will result in carbohydrate thinning model outputs suggesting the trees are under stress and no chemical thinning is needed. In reality, the user might miss an important thinning window or badly under-thin. If the readings are too high, the model would erroneously suggest a strong thinner concentration, leading to over-thinning.

This is so important that NEWA-linked weather stations reporting data outside of a normal expected range are deactivated in these specific cases to prevent misinterpretation of the apple crop management models.

Erroneous radiation data generally is due to either the sensor drifting its calibration or shade for some time during the day from a building or trees.  Shading is often the culprit when a weather station consistently reports low solar radiation. In some cases, the weather station owner has not removed the factory-installed “green cap.” Very low readings are reported on bright sunny days while no reading or zero values are reported on cloudy days.  Other times, a weather station is inadvertently placed near a building or tree. Full solar radiation exposure is maintained for most of a day but drops to zero when the instrument becomes shaded by a structure or object.

Shade will not affect temperature readings as much as solar radiation. The instrument thermometer is artificially shaded, to begin with so additional structural shade will not have a large impact. But the solar radiation sensor is meant to receive full exposure from sunrise to sunset. Weather station siting is much more critical for radiation-driven models like carbohydrate thinning and the apple irrigation models than for temperature-driven models.

Check for shading several times from sunrise to sunset the next time you have a bright sunny day. If you are unable to access the carbohydrate thinning or apple irrigation model from an otherwise functioning weather station, shading may be the culprit.  If you get low readings even with full exposure then the sensor is bad and needs replacement or re-calibration.

Contact the NEWA Help Desk at support@newa.zendesk.comfor assistance with replacing a bad solar radiation sensor.

Special thanks to Dr. Alan Lakso, Professor Emeritus, Cornell University for contributions to this article.