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January 2013

January 2013

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Wisconsin cranberry grower favors fresh market

Wisconsin cranberry grower favors fresh market

Habelman Bros. Cranberry Co. in Tomah, Wis., is one of but a few fresh-market cranberry growers in the United States. In fact, less than 4 percent of the total cranberries grown in the country are bound for the fresh market. It wasn’t always that way, said Ray Habelman, CEO and a member of the fourth generation to run the family farm. “Look at any marsh that dates back decades, they all did fresh sales at one point,” Habelman said. “When the juices and other products started developing, growers switched because fresh-market cranberries are harder to harvest and store.” Habelman cranberries are sold through most of the major grocery retailers, including Walmart, Safeway, Kroger and Costco, Hableman said. The majority of the fruit leaves Wisconsin, and quite a lot goes to Europe. “The cranberries go by ship,” Habelman said. “That’s why you have to be sure…  » Read more
New fruit fly spreading across country

New fruit fly spreading across country

A new fruit fly is showing up across the United States, and it may cause problems for growers, especially in small fruit. Similar in size, but not appearance, to Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), the African fig fly (AFF) lays its eggs in overripe and damaged fruit, said David Biddinger, a researcher with Penn State University’s Department of Entomology. The main concern for AFF is mid- to late-season crops like raspberries, blackberries and grapes. “In our experience, SWD does not appear to like grapes as a host all that well, but AFF numbers have been highest in grapes,” Biddinger said. AFF was first found in the United States in Florida in 2005, where it has spread to several counties. It’s also been reported in Michigan, Texas, Arizona, California, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, South Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin and Connecticut, although not all state records were immediately verifiable, said…  » Read more
Zombie fly the latest pest problem for honeybees

Zombie fly the latest pest problem for honeybees

The zombie fly, a phorid fly native to North America, is attacking honeybees, said John Hafernik, a professor of biology with San Francisco State University. The fly was previously known to parasitize bumblebees and paper wasps, but attacks on honeybees are a newer development. The flies infect the bee by laying eggs, which form larvae (maggots) in the bee. The larval infection causes the honeybees to become disoriented and leave the hives at night. Hafernik refers to infected bees as ZomBees. They are attracted to nearby lights, where they become stranded and die, Hafernik said. Once the maggots finish feeding on the dead bee, they exit and form pupae. A single infected honeybee may carry as many as 15 maggots. Two to four weeks later, the adult flies emerge and begin the cycle anew. The fly is found all over North America, from as far…  » Read more
Jerry Frecon retires from New Jersey Extension duties

Jerry Frecon retires from New Jersey Extension duties

After 30 years of helping New Jersey fruit growers, Jerome Frecon has retired from Rutgers Cooperative Extension. His last day was Dec. 31. “You have county agents, and then you have superagents,” said Gary Mount, owner of Terhune Orchards in Princeton, N.J. “I put Jerry in the superagent category.” If Mount had any questions about fruit production, particularly peach production, Frecon was the first person he would ask. Frecon didn’t join Extension to become a “superagent,” however. He joined because he needed a job. In 1982, he was the research director for Stark Bro’s Nurseries & Orchards. The company was liquidating some of its holdings at the time, including his position, so he called a friend at Rutgers Cooperative Extension. He had earned a master’s degree in plant science from Rutgers University in 1968, so he had connections. Frecon, now 68, grew up on the…  » Read more
Loss of ‘invasive’ plant could hurt pollination in Michigan

Loss of ‘invasive’ plant could hurt pollination in Michigan

Michigan beekeepers are worried about a project that could shrink the number of spotted knapweed plants (also known as star thistle) in the state. If the star thistle population is reduced, or possibly eliminated, it could wipe out a prime source of honey for the state’s beekeepers – which could lead to higher pollination costs for the state’s fruit and vegetable growers, said Tim Dekorne, president of the Michigan Commercial Beekeepers Association. The project, managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Michigan State University (MSU), is attempting to reduce the spotted knapweed population because it’s “one of the most serious invasive plants in North America,” according to an MSU fact sheet. The problem is that star thistle might be the most important source of nectar in the state today, producing millions of dollars’ worth of honey, according to Roger Hoopingarner, past president…  » Read more
New Hampshire farmers’ market moving in the right direction

New Hampshire farmers’ market moving in the right direction

For the past 16 years, farmers in the small town of Keene, N.H., have been providing fruit and produce at The Farmers’ Market of Keene, as it puts on both a summer and winter market. In the summer, as many as 50 vendors are on hand, and in the winter, close to 30. The market has become well regarded in the community. “We focus on farm products and have several produce vendors, fruit growers, meat and dairy producers and a few folks selling baked goods and crafts,” said Bill Fosher, the co-coordinator of the Keene farmers’ market. Fosher was a customer of the market for a decade before coming on board as a vendor last year, and joined Bruce Bickford and Marcia Winters as co-coordinators soon after. “There were big changes in the market over those 10 years. It’s grown quit a bit, both in…  » Read more