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Fruit Program News

Picking and handling tree-ripe peaches. Jon Clements, Extension Tree Fruit Specialist, University of Massachusetts Amherst

It is not necessary to wait for peaches to soften before they are tree-ripe. Here are a few pointers for picking tree-ripe peaches, and then for handling peaches when you get them home.

When picking peaches in the orchard:

• look for the absence of green skin/background color – any green will have changed to yellow (or white if it is a white-flesh peach) when the peach is tree-ripe; if there is still some green skin, let the peach stay on the tree to ripen more

• bright red-orange skin color is a good sign of ripeness, however, it depends on the variety – some are very red-orange, some less so; a fully yellow/white background (no green) is still the best indicator of tree-ripeness on peaches that don’t have as much red-orange color

• If you must squeeze the peach to assess ripeness, don’t squeeze too hard, that will result in an unsightly bruise

• larger peaches ripen first and peaches in the tops of the trees also ripen first

• a ripe peach will separate from the tree easily; if the peach is difficult to pick leave it on the tree to ripen longer

Once you get your peaches home, here is the proper way to handle and fully ripen them:

• Do not leave in any kind of plastic bag if that is what you picked into

• Do not put the peaches in the sun or a hot room or car trunk – they will not ripen evenly

• Do not put them in the refrigerator unless you want them not to ripen

• Put the peaches on newspaper in a single layer not touching each other

• Check to see as they start to soften by feeling them gently – don't push hard on them or they will bruise

• When the fruit is soft, they are ripe and juicy, so ENJOY! Note this may take several days.

• This applies to peaches, nectarines, and plums too...

Thanks to my good friend Annette Bjorge, Fruit Acres Farm, Coloma, MI for peach handling tips


PDF version of this information for printing for your customers...peachripen2.pdf

NEW Fact Sheet: F-140 Branching Young Apple Trees with Plant Growth Regulators

Cowgill, W., J. Clements and W. Autio

Plant growth regulator use instructions for promoting/increasing branching on nursery and young apple trees for better tree quality and early fruit production...

Annual Summer Meeting of the Massachusetts Fruit Growers’ Association

in cooperation with University of Massachusetts Fruit Program
TUESDAY, July 11, 2017
Cider Hill Farm
45 Fern Avenue, Amesbury, Massachusetts

10:00 AM Welcome to Cider Hill Farm and the morning tour -- Glenn Cook, President, MFGA

10:15 AM Orchard Tour

Blueberry and raspberry plantings
Primocane blackberry patch
Seedless grape planting
Fruit-tree spacings and preferences
New planting of cider apples
Renewable energy program (solar, small turbines, and high efficiency wood boilers)
Tomato greenhouses
Day neutral strawberry high tunnel trial
insect and disease control updates/IPM strategies for tree and small fruit (Jon Clements and Sonia Schloemann)

NOON Lunch by Goody Coles BBQ provided with the registration charge

1:15 PM Welcome to the afternoon tour -- Glenn Cook, President, MFGA

1:20 PM Facilities Tour

Brand new hard cider venture
CSA, food truck, and fledgling jam factory
Labor profile

2:30 PM Adjourn

Registration for this meeting will be $25 for Mass. Fruit Growers’ Association members ($35 for non-members) per person and will include the tour, educational program, pesticide recertification credits, and lunch.

To ensure the availability of the meal, please pre-register by adding the appropriate number and type (member or non-member) registrations to your shopping cart and paying with a credit card.

We must receive pre-registrations by Friday, July 7 to assure availability of the lunch.

PDF version of this announcement -- print and register via US Mail.

Register on-line by July 7 using PayPal and a credit card here...

SWD ID (from Oregon State Univ.)

The 2017 insecticide recommendations for controlling Spotted Wing Drosophila can be found here:


Dr. Wayne Wilcox of Cornell University has released his annual grape disease control update for 2017.  This is the most thorough discussion of all the issues related to disease management for grapes that is available for our region.

Current bud stages updated have been updated on 15-May, 2017

An Eco Apple app is now available on both the iOS (Apple) and Android (Play) stores to help apple growers choose crop protectants that are specifically allowed in the Eco Apple protocol.

McIntosh apple in bloom
May fruit twilight/thinning meetings have been scheduled. These will be important meetings for you to attend after a heavy bloom to see what your apple chemical thinning options will be. Dr. Duane Greene will attend with chemical thinning recommendations. Hope to see you there!

10-May, 2017 (Wednesday) Fruit Twilight/Thinning meeting, 5:30 PM. Honey Pot Hill Orchards, 138 Sudbury Road, Stow, MA. 1 pesticide credit will be offered. $20 admission. Light supper will be served. Contact: Jon Clements, 413-478-7219. Pre-registration is not necessary.

11-May, 2017 (Thursday) Fruit Twilight/Thinning meeting, 5:30 PM. UMass Cold Spring Orchard, 391 Sabin Street, Belchertown, MA. 1 pesticide credit will be offered. $20 admission. Light supper will be served. Contact: Jon Clements, 413-478-7219. Pre-registration is not necessary.

Honeycrisp apple

Orchard bud stage photos have been updated...taken at the UMass Cold Spring Orchard, Belchertown, MA.

Crop load management on young apple trees is important to balance fruit load with vegetative growth so that "runting out" or biennial bearing does not happen. This is important with varieties such as Honeycrisp (in particular) that are prone to "runt out" and/or go into biennial bearing if over-cropped in the early orchard establishment years. See the NEW Fact Sheet Crop load guide for young apple trees for more information and guidance on cropping young apple trees.