Organic fruit production in the US, especially the western regions, is expanding. The increase is occurring for both economic and ecological reasons. Current market conditions dictate that organic apple growers produce large, flavorful, high quality fruit. Large, high quality fruit receive price premiums and market acceptance whereas small fruit can be difficult to sell, even at lower prices. To grow large fruit, trees must be unstressed and provided with adequate water and nutrition. Weeds can compete with fruit trees for both water and nutrients.
The objective of the study was to evaluate and document the efficacy and potential of a kaolinbased particle film coating in suppressing plum curculio, codling moth, red-banded leafroller, oriental fruit moth, and certain bacterial and fungal pathogens in apples, while fine tuning application recommendations for Midwestern growers.
1. Develop an integrated, sustainable arthropod management system that will allow the production and marketing of certified organic apples.
2. Develop alternative chemical fruit thinning approaches for use in certified organic apple orchards that will result in annual cropping and large fruit size.
3. Develop alternative weed control approaches for use in certified organic apple orchards that will result in similar tree growth, yield, fruit size and leaf nutrient levels as conventional herbicides.
Previous research (with the support of OFRF) has been done with coastal apple growers in support of pheromone-based codling moth management and organic growers have now accepted and are using this method of pest control. However, in some orchards, mating disruption and other organic methods cannot alone keep codling moth damage at a manageable level. The addition of a locally-adapted egg parasitoid released at egg-laying of the first codling moth generation could make an economic difference for local organic apple growers in terms of lowered codling moth infestation at harvest.
This project will assess the impact of perennial flowering habitat plantings on biological control of several insect and mite pests of apples. This document reports our progress during 1995, the first year of this 3 to 4 year study. During 1995, plant species were chosen and the habitat plantings were established at two commercial apple orchards in Wisconsin; one orchard is certified organic and the other is managed using conventional IPM practices. To date, no insect sampling has been conducted.
A proposal was funded in 2001 and renewed in 2002 by OFRF to study methods and begin the development of technologies for organic apple crop thinning. The work was coordinated by C. R. Rom at the University of Arkansas in conjunction with the Colorado Organic Crop Management Association (COCMA), organic fruit growers in Colorado, and research scientists at Colorado State University. Additional funding for the project were received from COCMA and Gerber Products.
Organic apple production in Washington State has been steadily increasing since 1991. Acreage took a dramatic jump in 1980 in response to the Alar crisis, but most of those farms only remained in organic production for one season. This was largely due to the difficulty of controlling codling moth (Cydia pomenella), the primary direct pest in the region, and also in response to the collapse of market prices for organic fruit due to the huge increase in supply.
The Organic Farming Research Foundation of Santa Cruz, CA generously provided a grant of $3,479 in 1999 to initiate this study at the Southwest Research Center, Mt. Vernon, MO. The 2000 growing season was completed September 28, 2000, and I am pleased to submit this final summary of our results. A proposal for the funding of the second year's research has been submitted to OFRF. The particle film technology tested in this study appears to offer tremendous potential in safely suppressing both insects and disease in Midwestern apple production.