On July 9, Massachusetts fruit farmers convened at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Fruit Growers’ Association, held at the UMass Cold Spring Orchard Research and Education Center in Belchertown. More than 100 orchardists from all over Massachusetts came together to learn about new methods for growing many of the varieties of fruit they make available to buyers on their orchards and at farmers’ markets.
The weather was picture perfect for a summer meeting: clear blue skies formed the backdrop for hearing about current UMass research and as new methods to control pests. Discussions and demonstrations took place throughout the orchard about new spraying techniques, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), other fruit-growing practices and state-of-the-art management systems. UMass researchers -- including Wes Autio, Jon Clements, Duane Greene and Sonia Schloemann -- were on hand to answer questions and engage in informal conversation. Cherries, blueberries, apples, peaches and grapes are some of the fruits grown and studied at the research facility.
Lunch was provided by Outlook Farm, based in Westhampton. Specializing in pork products, delicious sausages and pulled pork sandwiches were among the local flavors being served up.
Tracy Leskey, from the USDA-Agricultural Research Service’s Appalachian Fruit Research Station in West Virginia, offered an educational program on the visual ecology of Spotted Wing Drosophila and “Attracticidal Spheres for Management.” Leskey earned her doctorate at UMass Amherst under the mentorship of the late Professor Ron Prokopy, one of the nation’s early pioneers in development of IPM for fruit crops.
Cold Spring Orchard is a research facility of UMass Amherst, and also is a place to buy delicious fruit and enjoy a spectacular view of the Holyoke Mountain Range. Located at the site of the spring that gave Belchertown its original name – Cold Spring – the orchard is on property that was once Hanifin Farm/Bay State Dairy Farm. When the University of Massachusetts built new dormitories in the 1960’s at the site of the former research orchard in Amherst, the Massachusetts Fruit Growers' Association, Inc. began looking for a new site and, on December 28 1961, the Massachusetts Fruit Growers' Association, Inc. completed the purchase of the Hanifin Farm, donating it to the University the following year
For more information about this facility and upcoming pick-your-own apple schedule, go to: http://www.coldspringorchard.com/