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Cornell Cooperative Extension Tour

This past week I went to a Cornell Cooperative Extension grower tour. The tour consisted of 5 stops and a lunch break at noon. I would like to talk about my favorite 2 stops on the tour that I found most informative. The first stop was a very important update on fire blight. This bacterial infection gets into the trees via new shoots, blossoms, or any part of the tree that has a open wound. Once inside, the infection will take about two to three years to completely kill the tree. The first year of the infection there are minimal signs, however, at the start of the second year the most obvious sign is known as a shepherds hook. With the hook, one can see that the branch also has a burnt appearance to it, hence the name fire blight. Once at this stage the Cornell Extension agent said that you have to cut it out of the tree completely. It is advised to make the cut 6-10 inches below the last sight of the burnt color and then remove that limb from the entire orchard. The main point of this lecture was to tell farmers that if they see this blight AND they sprayed the recommended application of Streptomycin that they need to call an extension agent to have the blight tested for resistance. This is a major concern for famers due to the fact that Streptomycin is the best available spray for fire blight and if resistance starts to build, then it will have to be taken off the market. In the conclusion of this stop, I learned that there have been two cases of resistance and they have been quarantined. However, everyone in the area of Wayne, Monroe, and Ontario County needs to be on the look out.

The second stop was to look at and discuss the impacts of a wind machine on certain locations of a farm. This particular wind machine cost about $35,000 and was propane-powered. In the picture it is hard to see, but the wind machine is placed on a small ridge in the bottom of a valley. This is a great location because cold air will settle in the valley and in the spring, the frost will kill all of the apples. I talked to the farmer that owns this machine and discussed specifics. Looking at the location of this block and the spring we had, there shouldn’t have been a single apple on any tree, however there was about 70% of a crop present. The farmer said the wind machine will move cold air out and protect up to 15 acres of land, however, he was using it for only about 10 acres because that’s how big the valley is. He also shared that he ran it about 7 times this spring for roughly 4 hours each time and that it costs around 30-40 dollars an hour to run depending on how fast you need the blades to rotate. After looking over some more numbers with him we both came to the conclusion that machine paid for itself this spring alone because he saved a crop that is worth around $45,000.

Those two stops were the best in my mind because they seemed to give the most up-to-date information on ways to stay ahead of two major crop killers–fire blight and frost damage.

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