Getting ready for this season’s challenges

Growers must stay informed and in tune with changes that significantly impact product marketability and production profitability.

Join us at Spring Horticulture Meeting in Hart, Michigan, for a full day of educational presentations and discussions on production technology, pest protection, regulatory policies and supplemental insurance for fruit producers.

Topics to be addressed are:

  • Policy Update by Suzanne Thornsbury, MSU Department of Agricultural Economics. The emphasize will be on issues related to the new Farm Bill and possible implications that new policies will have on fruit farming operations.
  • Phillip Tocco, MSUE Educator, will address Changes in GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) and give an overview of federal food safety guidelines. Food safety deals with producing, handling, storing and preparing food in ways to prevent contamination with foodborne pathogens. In fruit production, one of the main concerns has been contamination with E-coli. Following prescribed GAP and federal food safety guidelines is increasingly important in produce acceptability and marketability.
  • Disaster Program “SURE” was created under the 2008 Farm Bill. MSUE Educator Curtis Talley will address requirements to qualify for the program, needed documentation, timing for submitting collected documentation, and the time-line for claims review, approval and payout.
  • The Swiss Sandwich System as an alternative to herbicides by Mirjana Bulatovic-Danilovich, MSUE Educator.  Increased environmental and health concerns are building interest in reducing pesticide use. The Swiss Sandwich System (SSS) is a new and innovative approach in orchard floor management that improves physical and microbial properties of the soil, enhances soil fertility, suppresses disease and insect pressure while keeping weeds at bay. It was originally designed for organic production systems, but given the low cost, efficiency and ease of system establishment ,it could easily be implemented in conventional orchards reducing the need for herbicide applications.
  • Insect management strategies by John Wise, MSU Department of Entomology. An update on research with new chemistries and efficacy studies in controlling some of the old problems. An overview of specific options for insect control in the 2011 growing season.
  • New invasive insect species by Mark Whalon, MSU Department of Entomology. In 2010, spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) has been found in several counties in Michigan including Oceana County. Potentially, this is a very damaging pest due to its very wide range of hosts and its lifecycle.  Marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) is another newcomer that has been creating a lot of problems in Pennsylvania, Ohio and other parts of the country. Over the last several years apple flea weevil (Orchestes pallicornis) has been making a comeback. Previous outbreaks were sporadic and far in between so it could be treated almost as a new pest.  Knowing when and where to look for these pests is a prerequisite for successful control.
  • Tree Fruit Disease Strategies. Specific recommendations for dealing with apple scab (Venturia inaequalis), fireblight  (Erwinia amylovora), powdery mildew of apple and pear (Podosphaera leucotricha), powdery mildew of stone fruit (Sphaeroteca pannosa and Podosphaera clandestine), cherry leaf spot (Brumeriella jaapii), brown rot (Monilinia sp.).   
  • Virus complex in west Michigan orchards by Bill Shane, MSUE Educator. An overview of a proposed survey for presence and identification of three major viruses in tree fruit orchards in west Michigan. The major viruses, tomato ring spot (TmRSV), prune dwarf virus (PDV) and prunus necrotic ring spot (PNRSV), are responsible for reduced yields, fruit quality, overall tree health and tree longevity. Information on distribution and prevalence of these viruses will benefit growers when making decisions about fumigating before replanting individual trees or entire orchards.

The meeting will be held March 15 at Hart United Methodist Church in Hart, Michigan. Growers will receive 5 credits toward recertification of their pesticide applicators license. CCA credits have been applied for and approval is pending. Advanced registration is $25 (before March 4) and $30 when registering at the door. Additional information is available from Dr. Mira Bulatovic-Danilovich via e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); phone contact and information from Mira and or Wendy Marek 231-757-4789.

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