Organic Commercial apple orchard

AutumnGroveOrchardMay 1, 2013

What do you commercial apple growers use for organic sprays? I have 1016 apple trees on a tall trellis system for farmers market and U-pick,


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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Have you read Michael Phillips' book? Or the guide put out by Cornell? They go through it in detail.

I don't think there are any commercial organic growers on this list. I am a backyard mostly organic grower and I use the usual stuff: copper for fireblight in spring if needed, sulphur throughout for diseases, granulosis virus, spinosad, and mating disruption for codling moth, and Surround in spring for curculio as well as for a little help with moths. I am in Maryland and we don't have a single organic fruit grower in the whole state - its hard to succeed in hot and humid summer areas.

This months Fruit Grower has a lot on the economics etc of organic fruit growing, if you don't have a subscription look at the website in a month and this months issue will be there for free.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 8:27AM
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Scott, I remember that you said it took you something like five years but the mating disruptors finally worked for codling moth on your place
How urban (suburban?) of a setting do you live in?
How many disruptors per tree did you put them up in? Would it have helped if your neighbors had also used the mating disruptors?

Have you ever tried trichogramma wasps for codling moth?

thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 10:21PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Donnie, I think it was more like 2-3 years. I still get codling moth, but most apples are good. I live in suburbia. I spread the lures all over my yard right up to the edge. The yard is about an acre but maybe 1/4 acre has fruit trees on it. I put a lure every 5-10' in the fruit tree areas.

Last weekend I put out the lures. Its a challenge when to put them out, too early and they wear out too soon, too late and you miss the first flight and pay big time.

Last time I looked at info on those wasps they were not making enough of an impact, so I never tried them.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 11:27PM
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Thanks Scott, I'll look into those.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 3:44PM
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There's a lot of info on organic apple orchards in Iowa, most notably Wills Family Orchard. There's a directory that lists a few as well. You might need to reach out and touch someone directly to get a better idea of best practices.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 8:31PM
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skyjs(z8 OR, USA)

There are a lot more commercial organic orchards out west. Additionally, many organic growers use permaculture, so it is not monocrop. Like Michael Phillips says in his book, most organic growers use a multitude of strategies just like people did in the old days. The diversity helps to fight against disease and pest infestation. I agree with Scott that fruit on average is easier in the West. This list has the whole gamut from pure 100% organic to free and frequent synthetics users.
John S

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 11:56PM
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alan haigh

Now Cornell has been looking at organic apple production in the northeast for a while and you can see what they say about it on the link. Michigan State has also researched it quite a bit.

Still not generally considered an economically viable way to go in the humid regions because price does not compensate adequately for cost- unless you can develop a free-spending clientele.

The problem is there is a glut of organic fruit being grown in the west where there is little or no rain during the growing season so costs are low and productivity high because of much lower disease and pest pressure. The recession has reduced demand on organic food a great deal so a large portion of western grown organic fruit is being sold as conventional for lesser profit.

It really is not very expensive to ship apples via truck thousands of miles so the math is not in your favor.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cornell spray guidelines

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 5:47AM
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alan haigh

Should have mentioned that the info on organic production is included in overall guidelines as well as a general discussion about the current state of affairs. Check table of contents.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 9:27AM
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