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October 2012

October 2012
[Banner Mid] Columbia Okura, November expires 12/31

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Looking forward to normal

Looking forward to normal

1945 has 2012 to thank for one thing: 1945 is no longer the black sheep of the fruit crop years. 2012 may have taken over that spot. And as far as Mark Fleckenstein is concerned, if it’s another 67 years before apple growers see the fruits of their labors destroyed in a freak burst of weather, that’s fine with him. Fleckenstein represents one of four families who run the fourth-generation Beak and Skiff Apple Farms in Lafayette, N.Y. It’s a multifaceted operation. With 300 acres devoted to apple production, the family operates a u-pick, along with a country store, winery and distillery. They also make their own cider. It’s good to be diversified with multiple operations and value-added products, especially in a year like this when they lost about 80 percent of their apple crop, said Fleckenstein. On the other hand, most everything they do…  » Read more
EPA extends Guthion usage for a year

EPA extends Guthion usage for a year

EPA recently decided to allow growers to use their existing stocks of azinphos-methyl (AZM) for another year. The new deadline is Sept. 30, 2013. The deadline cancelling the distribution or sale of AZM, however, was kept at Sept. 30, 2012. EPA extended the usage deadline “due to unusual bad weather conditions in 2012,” according to an Aug. 30 announcement. The cancellation order applies to growers of apples, blueberries, sweet and tart cherries and pears, according to EPA. An organophosphate insecticide known commercially as Guthion, AZM is an important tool for apple growers. According to a survey conducted by the Michigan Apple Committee (MAC) and Michigan State University in 2009, the need for AZM in the industry remains. According to the survey, from 2004 to 2009 (a period of major reductions in AZM rates), 60 percent of Michigan commercial apple growers saw their pesticide costs go…  » Read more
Are your grapes ready for cordon renewal?

Are your grapes ready for cordon renewal?

Do your grapes need a cordon replacement? You know, that horizontal arm that is trained around a trellis wire that your grape vines grow off from? Don’t worry, said Tom Zabadal, a researcher with Michigan State University. You’re not alone if you aren’t sure you need to renew your cordons. Cordons have an advantage, Zabadal said, in that they allow for a semi-permanent part of the vine that supports fruiting buds or spurs. Having this support reduces the amount of tying that is needed annually. This can serve to reduce labor costs. Cordons can also offer growers an orderly annual renewal zone that can help with shoot positioning, leaf removal and more. This also opens the door to mechanized pruning, another labor-saving tool. But, Zabadal said, there are some disadvantages to cordons that growers need to be aware of. Quite often, as they mature, cordons…  » Read more
Acreage down, trees up for Michigan fruit growers

Acreage down, trees up for Michigan fruit growers

According to a census of apple varieties and acreage conducted by the Michigan office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, total acreage for Michigan has decreased since 2000, when the total was 47,500. In 2011, the total was 36,500 acres. Red Delicious had the most acres of any variety in the state, with 6,810. Golden Delicious had 4,120 acres, Idared 2,820 acres and Jonathan 2,800 acres. All of those varieties, however, are declining in total acreage. Gala acreage has grown from 2,800 to 3,780 in the last five years. The census showed that it is the most-planted variety in the past five years, with 459,600 trees going into the ground. Much of them were planted in higher densities. There are currently 1.4 million Gala trees in the state. By comparison, while there is more acreage for Red Delicious in Michigan, there are slightly fewer Red…  » Read more
Central Illinois farm market going strong despite drought, frost

Central Illinois farm market going strong despite drought, frost

Tanner’s Orchard is celebrating its 65th year as a family-run business. The 80-acre, Speer, Ill., farm and market was founded in 1947 by John Tanner. The original family farm was started in 1906 in Deer Creek, Ill., by Rudolf Tanner and his wife, who emigrated from Switzerland. The Deer Creek location, however, was too far from a major roadway to be successful. The Speer location turned out to be the right one for the Tanner family, who have continued to thrive and expand ever since, said Craig Tanner, who now runs the farm with his sister, Jennifer, as well as their parents, Richard and Marilyn. In the mid-1980s, the Tanners decided to focus on retail fruit. They had 20 acres of apples, and then pigs and cows. Now, the only animals on the farm are there for agritainment. The orchard side The family has 36…  » Read more
Apple slice processors get ready for ‘interesting’ season

Apple slice processors get ready for ‘interesting’ season

When your product is as simple as fresh-sliced apples, substitutions aren’t an option. You need fresh apples. Period. So producers of fresh-sliced apples are in for an interesting ride. With a significantly reduced crop in the wake of last spring’s freeze followed by pockets of hail damage, processors are watching to see how the crop plays out as they look for ways to economize and make contingency plans. “The supply of apples is certainly going to affect our business this year,” said Steve Cygan, owner of Appeeling Fruit in Dauberville, Pa. “It’s going to affect pricing, it’s going to affect the volume – and demand, to some degree.” As a regional processor who normally sources apples closer to home, Cygan said he’s fortunate that the growers around him didn’t take the hit that those in New York and Michigan did. USApple estimated a 76 percent…  » Read more
Dodd named chairman of U.S. Apple Association

Dodd named chairman of U.S. Apple Association

Bill Dodd was elected chairman of the U.S. Apple Association’s (USApple) board of directors in August, during the association’s annual outlook conference. He replaced Dale Foreman as chairman and will serve a one-year term. Dodd, who runs Hillcrest Orchards in Amherst, Ohio, said immigration and labor reform remain top priorities for USApple. “We’re waiting to see what happens with the election,” he said. ”We’re hoping to see if that creates an opportunity to make something happen, positively.” Another major issue is the 2012 Farm Bill. Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have introduced bills favorable to specialty crops, but progress remained stalled as of early September. “While I can’t say how that is going to work out, we’ll be a part of the process going forward,” Dodd said. It is going to be a bizarre marketing year, with the crop being as small…  » Read more
Consumers in the East want local berries

Consumers in the East want local berries

The buy-local movement is still boosting berry sales, especially for growers in the East. And despite all the growth in farm market, farmers’ market and CSA sales, there’s still room for more, according to sources. An acquaintance that works in the grocery industry told Nate Nourse, sales director for Nourse Farms, a berry plant grower based in South Deerfield, Mass., that only 35 percent of people in grocery stores visit the produce aisle. “That was astounding to me,” Nourse said. “There’s a lot more room to grow.” Berries have been one of the main drivers of local sales. Berry consumption in the East is skyrocketing, led by strawberries. That growth has shifted sales away from the West Coast – which supplies much of the nation’s berries – and toward the East Coast, putting more money in the pockets of local growers, he said. A few…  » Read more
Scientists still puzzling over CCD causes

Scientists still puzzling over CCD causes

When it comes to solving the puzzling syndrome known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which has been attacking honey bee colonies since 2006, the best that can be said is that there is good news and bad news. The good news is that the rate of honey bee losses seems to have leveled off rather than continuing to increase. The bad news is that the cause or causes of CCD remain unclear. In the United States, the problem surfaced in October 2006, when an increasing number of beekeepers began reporting losses of 30 to 90 percent of the hives in their apiaries with no apparent cause. The defining characteristic of CCD is the disappearance of most, if not all, of the adult honey bees in a colony, leaving behind honey and brood but no dead bee bodies. This definition has recently been revised to include…  » Read more
Cider apples might work for Washington growers

Cider apples might work for Washington growers

Where can hard cider connoisseurs roam the countryside, traveling from estate to estate and sampling the artisan crafts of local producers? Western Washington will be the venue for such activity, if Washington State University (WSU) researchers have their way. Their goal is not just improvement of production and harvest techniques, but creation of a “hard cider culture,” with thriving producers and ardent consumers. Carol Miles of the WSU Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center (NWREC) in Mount Vernon is leading a team that has identified two of the objectives necessary for establishing a Washington hard cider culture. First, researchers need to evaluate the characteristics of apples and their juice to determine their suitability for cider making in the Pacific Northwest. Second, they need to automate harvest with machinery in order to make cidering economically feasible. Cider apples All apples are not created equal. Some, like…  » Read more
Editorial: Beware the Canada goose

Editorial: Beware the Canada goose

With droughts and freezes, the last thing a grower needs is damage from wildlife. Deer are usually a major problem, but a winged critter is making life difficult for some growers. “I planted broccoli after our sweet corn was picked and something kept eating the young plants before they could really grow,” said Lillian Jacobs, owner of The Garden Spot farm in Princeville, Ill. “I figured it was deer, but couldn’t find any tracks. Then I noticed a few feathers in the field. Sure enough, it was geese.” In fact, while visiting the farm, Jacobs and I witnessed several flocks of geese dining on her broccoli plants. “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said. Geese are a big problem for Habbleman Bros. Cranberries in Tomah, Wis., too, said owner Ray Habbleman. “It’s not just their waste that is a problem,” he said.…  » Read more