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.
There are two obvious barriers organic producers face when they consider on-farm processing. The first is psychological. On-farm processing can appear intimidating and beyond reach, on one hand; on the other, it may seem unnecessary to someone who is already “adding value” by raising crops or livestock organically. The second barrier—a more pragmatic one—is the lack of good, producer-friendly information on small-scale organic processing and handling.
Habitat management to enhance biological control in cultivated crops is an increasingly common method of pest control in both annual and perennial cropping systems. Examples of this approach include use of windbreaks or hedge rows to prompt build-up of natural enemies around crop edges, planting of insectary seed mixes as cover crops in perennial crops, or management of natural ground cover (e.g., via mowing frequency, strip mowing, or selective herbicide use) to enhance build-up of natural enemies.
Bats are helpful to farmers, as they consume large quantities of insect pests, but many bat species are declining due to loss of roost sites. Farmers can help bats by providing new roosts in the form of bat houses while at the same time benefiting from batsí pest reduction services. However, as much of the evidence for batsí roles in insect biocontrol is anecdotal, further studies are needed to better document batsí contributions to agriculture.
Native bee pollinators link natural habitats with agricultural areas. Native bee populations may rely on natural habitats to provide forage and nesting resources during part of the year, and agricultural areas the rest of the year. Native bee pollinators may provide pollination services in both areas, and may in turn depend on both. Thus problems in one area could affect the other.
The principal objective of this project was to make a greater proportion of relevant and practical research-based information available to organic farmers. Experienced organic farmers were specifically targeted. In the original proposal, NCAT planned to create a quarterly publication featuring abstracts of relevant research gleaned from the literature. Emphasis was to be placed on recent, cutting-edge research on a broad range of topics pertinent to organic production and marketing.
The brush hoe cultivator (Bartchi Fobro Co., Switzerland) was evaluated for weed control cool-season vegetables in the Salinas Valley. The brush hoe was compared with conventional vegetable cultivators in seven on-farm trials. The brush hoe cultivated closer to the seed row than the conventional cultivators used by the growers. It left uncultivated strips 2 7/8 inch wide while conventional cultivators generally left uncultivated strips four inches wide. The brush hoe provided comparable or improved weed control over conventional cultivation.
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.