Fruit Program News
2018 apple maturity report updated, 11-September
All observations from UMass Orchard, Belchertown, MA unless otherwise noted
Picking and handling tree-ripe peaches
Extension Tree Fruit Specialist, UMass 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 takeseveral 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
While trap captures are begining to increase, Brown Marmorated Stink Bug populations remain below threshold for tree fruit crops. There is not, currently, any recognized population threshold in small fruit. See the New England Tree Fruit Management Guide or the New England Small Fruit Management Guide for more information.
A particularly nasty case of brown rot has afflicted shoots of Danube and Balaton tart cherry at the UMass Orchard in Belchertown. It was confirmed as brown rot by Dan Cooley's lab, there was the thought it might bacterial canker, but that has been ruled out. Many shoots are afflicted and will have to be pruned out. Interestingly, we wonder if it is a case of European brown rot, which appears to be quite more virulent than the garden variety American brown rot. This outbreak emphasized the importance of timely bloom fungicide sprays, as this is when the brown rot infection got started. Fruits will have to be protected with fungicides when ripening too. For more information on European vs. American brown rot, see this article in Good Fruit Grower. And for timely fungicide application choices, see see the Cherries Spray Table in New England Tree Fruit Management Guide.
Potato leafhopper (PLH) have arrived in Massachusetts, and pose a pest threat to young apple trees in particular. Scout for the presence of PLH in young apple planting and treat with an effective insecticide before they damage and stunt apple foliage on newly planted trees. PLH on older, bearing orchards do not present as much a threat.
Annual Summer Meeting of the Massachusetts Fruit Growers’ Association
and UMass Orchard tour, in cooperation with University of Massachusetts Fruit Team
TUESDAY, July 10, 2018
UMass Cold Spring Orchard
391 Sabin St., Belchertown, Massachusetts
Or to mail in your registration...MFGA Summer Meeting Info and Mail-in Registration
To request Accessibility accomodations for this event, please visit the UMass disability services website and fill out a brief request form. https://www.umass.edu/disability/events
Gypsy moth caterpillars are actively chewing foliage in orchards (where they occur) as can be seen here at the UMass Orchard in Belchertown. Do not be too complacent about gypsy moth, particularly young apple trees/new plantings. (They don't seem to bother stone fruit.) B.t. (Dipel, etc.) can be used to (eventually) control them, but must be used NOW when they are small, and it will take a while to work. Almost any petal fall insecticide (carbaryl, Imidan, etc.) will give quick knock-down and is highly recommended where they are doing a lot of chewing! For more information on gypsy moth, see the UMass Extension Landscape Message dated May 18, 2018. (Click on the Insects link.)
Come join Sonia Schloemann (UMass) and Heather Faubert at Ward’s Berry Farm, 614 South Main St., Sharon, MA on Thursday May 24, 2018 at 5:30 PM. Guest speaker: Dale Ila Riggs, The Berry Patch in Stephentown, NY, will speak on exclusion netting to protect fruit against spotted wing drosophila and other pests. Sonia Schloemann, UMass Small Fruit Specialist and Heather Faubert, URI, will speak on current blueberry topics such as pruning, nutrition and insect management. Meeting is free with annual dues payment of $40, or $20 for non-RIFGA members. Light dinner will be served. Two hours of pesticide recertification credit available. Registration is not necessary.