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Fruit Program News

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.

jon.clements@umass.eduOnline Decision Support Systems (DSS’s) provide guidance in managing disease and insect pests using weather based forecasting models.  These DSS’s predict pest development and risk of infection/damage. Weather data can be acquired from either on-site weather stations or by virtual gridded data. For 2017, Massachusetts apple growers have a choice of four DSS’s, which are briefly outlined here.

In cooperation with the New England Tree Fruit Research Committee (NETFRC), we will be offering a RIMpro advisory service to New England apple growers in 2017.

Crop insurance for apples is available in all Massachusetts counties.  Crop insurance for peaches is available in Hampshire, Hampden, Middlesex & Worcester counties. Peaches in other Massachusetts counties may be insured by Written Agreement (a process completed by a licensed Federal Crop Insurance agent using existing actuarial data from neighboring counties) if specific criteria are met.  If crop insurance is not available, similar protection may be available through the Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) from the USDA - Farm Service Agency (FSA) Office that serves your farming operation.  All other fruit crops may be insured through a Written Agreement or NAP.

This year has been one of the most challenging in the history of Massachusetts farming. We saw record low temperatures in February that wiped out the 2016 peach crop followed by extreme low temperatures in April followed by an extreme drought. All farmers suffered losses on almost every crop either by lower yields and/or increase operating expenses. Every farmer got a chance to evaluate their risk management plan. Did they have coverage and was it at the right level? 

2016 apple maturity reports have started, click here for details...

Drought Survey

In order to seek a disaster declaration and disaster relief for Massachusetts farmers ...

MA Drought Map for 9-16-16 2016 Drought Status and Related Information -
As of Sept. 16, 2016 the US Drought Monitor is reporting over 98% of Massachusetts is in a state of Moderate to Extreme Drought.  See:  Extreme Drought (area shaded in red) now extends across the state to Western Mass and covers over 50% of the land area of the state.