Nov 8, 2022
Best crop management practices for apple growers

In order to grow high-quality apples, growers must understand proper management practices, rootstock selections and more. Fruit growers will learn about this topic, among other fruit sessions, at the 2022 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO. 

Dr. Sherif M. Sherif, assistant professor at Virginia Tech and tree fruit specialist, focuses on the complex biological phenomena relevant to the production and sustainability of tree fruits. Sherif and his research group at Virginia Tech have spent the past five years researching chemical compounds and predictive models to assist apple and peach growers with blossom and fruit thinning. 

Sherif M. Sherif

At the 2022 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO, Sherif will discuss his research on enhancing the return bloom of Honeycrisp apples using Naphthalene Acetic Acid (NAA) materials. 

 “We have demonstrated that NAA is the only chemical that, when applied at the appropriate rate and time, can guarantee a consistent annual Honeycrisp crop,” Sherif said. “According to the findings of our research, the most effective method for increasing return bloom the following year is to apply NAA at a rate of 3 ounces per 100 gallons within 30 days of full bloom. When applied 40 or 50 days after full bloom, NAA did not have the same beneficial effect as when it was applied earlier in the growing season.”

Sherif’s best management practices for apples:

  1. Rootstock selection is the “most important factor in determining the success and economic viability of fruit enterprises.” Rootstocks can affect the susceptibility of certain fruit physiological disorders like bitter pit, drought and freezing. 
  2. For Honeycrisp apples, rootstocks B.9 and B.10 are the best option for growers when controlling bitter pit.
  3. Growers in the Southeastern United States should consider growing red Gala and Fuji apples. “Growing a red strain makes an enormous difference, particularly in years in which the nighttime temperatures of the summer are not sufficiently cool to support the development of color,” Sherif said.
  4. Growers can reduce stem-end splitting in Gala apples by using ReTain at the rate of one pouch per-acre three weeks before the expected harvest date.
  5. If growers want to achieve a good fruit size, Sherif does not recommend using NAA or Ethephon for thinning Gala apples. 

Learn more about these sessions and others at www.glexpo.com. The 2022 Great Lakes EXPO will be Dec. 6-8 at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Madi Schafer


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