Fruit Program News
A reminder that the deadline for getting apple (or other tree fruit) crop insurance for the 2019 crop year is November 20, 2018. For more information, see the information sheet "November 20th Deadline Nears for Fruit Producers" provided by the UMass Risk Management Education team of Tom Smiarowski and Paul Russell.
According to a recent (September 11, 2018) Healthy Fruit Pest Update, "UMass Extension has been tracking the invasive Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB), Halyomorpha halys, since 2012. For the past six years, the number of BMSB captured in pheromone-baited traps had remained relatively low, until now. Trap-capture data for 2018 have shown that, this year, BMSB populations are greater than any of the six previous years. Suspected feeding injury by stink bugs (allegedly BMSB) has been reported in a couple of orchards. However, the actual levels of damage have not been quantified yet." Growers are encouraged to monitor/scout their situation and only use control measures where damage by BMSB is documented or trap catches exceed threshold. For more information, see Brown Marmorated Stink Bug.
At a poster session for UMass CAFE Summer Scholars on September 12, 2018 at the UMass Amherst Campus Center, Nicole Foley presented the results of her study "Evaluation of plant-based materials for attractiveness to the invasive spotted wing Drosophila, Drosophila suzukii " UMass Extension Fruit Entomologist Jaime Pinero was Nicole's advisor. Here is the poster...Poster-Evaluation of plant-based materials for attractiveness to the invasive spotted wing Drosophila, Drosophila suzukii
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.