Oct 24, 2022
Industry innovations, best practices among topics for fruit growers at EXPO

For successful crop management, growers must address climate change and invest in proper equipment to prevent disease, according to presentations at the upcoming 2022 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO.

In addition, growers will learn about orchard production innovations, pest innovations and best practices in fruit and more.  

Gregory Lang, professor of tree fruit physiology at Michigan State University, has experience in research on many fruits including sweet cherries, peaches, blueberries and apples. 

Gregory Lane

During the 2022 Great Lakes Fruit Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO, Lang will be speaking at two sessions: one on cherries and one on peaches. 

“In both sessions, I’ll be focusing on orchard production innovations over the past 25 years that have overcome some of the barriers to producing fresh-market sweet cherries and peaches in Michigan,” Lang said. 

Lang will address issues facing growers such as vigor-limiting rootstocks, higher density production systems, smaller and more labor-efficient trees, futuristic canopy technologies and more.

To maintain the perfect sweet cherry fresh market orchard, Lang suggests growers invest in economically feasible orchard technologies. This can help gain a certain level of control over climate changes that could potentially damage crops. 

 “It is overwhelmingly clear that the climate is changing long-term and that seasonal climatic events are becoming more variable and extreme, so to maintain a consistent and profitable market presence, growers need to invest in reducing some of those crop-damaging risks,” Lang said. 

Lang also notes that fresh market orchards require capital investments and intense management for success. 

“(The fresh market orchard) isn’t for everyone economically or philosophically, but it does provide strong financial incentives for those who enjoy creative problem solving and pursuing up-to-date orchard knowledge and innovations based on scientific and technological innovations,” Lang said.

Lang will also talk on the Valent Trade Show Stage, going into greater detail than will be possible in the cherry and peach sessions. Bring your questions for Lang to the Valent Stage and receive a personalized answer. 

Michelle Moyer, associate professor and viticulture extension specialist at Washington State University, also will present a session at the Great Lakes EXPO,Pesticide innovations and best practices in fruit,” educating growers on how spray coverage affects fungicide efficacy and disease management.

Michelle Moyer

“Disease management through the use of fungicides requires that the fungicide hits the target,” Moyer said. “Sometimes, the target is the fungus and sometimes it’s the host. When the fungicide doesn’t hit the target, disease control doesn’t happen and spray coverage is all about getting that fungicide to the target.”

Moyer offers some best practices and techniques for disease management, including a chemical approach and a full-season spray program.

“Disease management in any crop starts first with cultural practices. You have to manage the crop to reduce the favorability for disease development.”

This includes site selection, variety selection and, of course, canopy management, through trellis and training choice, shoot thinning and leaf removal, Moyer said.

“Then, you supplement your management program with a chemical approach,” she said. “The chemical approach starts with selecting a sprayer that is appropriate for your site and canopy shape, optimizing that sprayer for your site or crop canopy, then routinely calibrating that sprayer in the growing season to make sure it’s delivering production how you intended.”

Moyer suggests that growers should create a chemical management program focusing on “which diseases are the most important during different stages of annual vine development.”  

It’s important to understand that a full-season spray program means growers spray all season, if necessary, targeting different diseases at different times, she said. 

Regardless of the type of sprayer you use, make sure you know how it works,” Moyer said. “Every sprayer can be calibrated and optimized for the task it was intended for. Calibrate your sprayers frequently throughout the season, and remember  swapping out nozzles or tubing might seem expensive, but it’s not as expensive as wasted fungicide or crop loss,” Moyer said.

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 Jones, FGN correspondent

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