Sep 28, 2016
Northern New York precision apple project results released

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has posted the results of recent precision apple orchard management research evaluating the impact of applying precise orchard management practices to improve the yield, fruit size and quality of the regional apple crop for a more consistent higher economic return per acre.

Precision apple project sensory panel members evaluate Honeycrisp apples sampled weekly from several orchards throughout New York State, including Northern New York’s Champlain Valley region. Photo: Poliana Francescatto
Precision apple project sensory panel members evaluate Honeycrisp apples sampled weekly from several orchards throughout New York State, including Northern New York’s Champlain Valley region. Photo: Poliana Francescatto

Three specific strategies are under evaluation by a research team of NNY apple growers, Cornell University faculty, and Cornell Cooperative Extension personnel. The orchard management practices, designed to enhance the efficiency of apple production, include precision orchard thinning, irrigation, and harvest timing.

The complete results of the project are posted on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org. The report also includes data from orchards in Ontario, Orleans, Ulster and Wayne counties.

The Northern New York growers involved with this Northern New York Agricultural Development Program-funded project achieved excellent results in 2015.

The computer models component of the precision orchard management system provided information to the Northern NY growers for best timing and application rates for thinning fruit blossoms to achieve an optimal cropload per apple tree and data for irrigation timing and amounts based on soil type and tree age.

One Clinton County apple grower evaluated tree growth, stress, crop yield, fruit size, and fruit quality in both irrigated and non-irrigated orchard blocks. The Cornell researchers estimate that, depending on orchard density and age, a lack of irrigation can decrease the apple crop value between $3,859 and $6,809 per 100 acres.

Two NNY apple growers participated in precision harvesting of the Honeycrisp apple variety to compare a pre-harvest data to post-harvest production with the goal of creating specific parameters for better sorting fruit for short-term sales and longer-term storage and sales.

Source: Northern New York Agricultural Development Program

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