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Posts Tagged ‘Rogers Orchards’

Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Deerfield, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Green-tipped apple leaf buds beginning to emerge April 23 at Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Deerfield, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

THE LONG WINTER and cool spring may be frustrating to heat-starved New Englanders, but it is good news for the region’s apple growers. An early spring — as occurred in 2010 and 2012 — forces a premature bloom in the apple orchard, putting the delicate flowers and nascent apples at risk of frost damage for an extended period.

This year is more normal, from an apple perspective. You can see the dramatic difference in our Spring 2015 McIntosh News, the quarterly newsletter of the New England Apple Association. A photograph taken at Belltown Hill Orchards in South Glastonbury, Connecticut, on April 5, 2012 (page 7), shows smudge pots beneath green grass and budded trees, a strategy for limiting frost damage.

This spring, photographs from Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield, Massachusetts, (page 1) nearly three weeks later on April 23, shows green-tip buds just emerging. Bloom is expected around May 10 or later at most of the region’s apple orchards.

There is plenty more in McIntosh News, including:

  • A recipe for Birdie’s Favorite Apple Brownies from Sentinel Pine Orchards, Shoreham, Vermont, on page 7; and
  • Links to our three-part video series on integrated pest management (IPM), an entertaining and educational look at how New England apple growers deal with bugs, bacteria, and other orchard threats (pages 2-4).

If you haven’t seen the series already, it is well worth it, and if you have already viewed them, they are well worth watching again at this critical time of year, when many orchard pests are re-emerging after a winter of dormancy.

The engaging and informative programs star apple growers John and Pete Rogers and Greg Parzych of Rogers Orchards in Southington, Connecticut, and Chuck Souther of Apple Hill Farm in Concord, New Hampshire.

We hope you enjoy the videos and newsletter, and we welcome your feedback and comments.

Russell Steven Powell

Editor

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OUR THREE-PART video series on integrated pest management (IPM) concludes with a look at one of its five basic principles: how apple growers use a diverse combination of management tools to treat pests in their orchards that pose an economic threat, including the introduction of beneficial insects, and the use of pheromones to attract, distract, trap, or confuse would-be predators.

IPM, Part 1 examines how pests are prevented and identified.

IPM, Part 2 explores how New England apple growers monitor pest populations in their orchards and decide when to treat the predators threatening the apple crop.

The series was produced for the nonprofit New England Apple Association, with funding from Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement and the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food, and its Division of Pesticide Control.

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PLUM CURCULIO, Oblique Banded Leaf Roller, and apple aphids are the featured pests as New England apple growers describe how they monitor populations in their orchards and decide when to treat the predators threatening the apple crop.

IPM, Part 1 examines how pests are prevented and identified.

IPM, Part 3 looks at the diverse combination of management tools growers use to combat pests, including the use of pheromones, beneficial insects, and weather monitoring.

The series was produced for the New England Apple Association, with funding from Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement and the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food, and its Division of Pesticide Control.

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FOR AS LONG as humans have cultivated the soil to grow the food that sustains them, a whole horde of beasts, bugs, and bacteria have attempted to partake of the bounty. For the modern fruit grower, the challenge of protecting their trees and fruit from predators and injury has been compounded by the introduction of new pests introduced to New England’s orchards from around the world.

The orchardist uses a continually evolving combination of tools to combat these threats, collectively known as integrated pest management, or IPM. These methods include:

  • Add nutrients to the soil to strengthen the trees’ natural defenses
  • Introduce beneficial insects to the orchard to feed on harmful ones
  • Use pheromones to attract, distract, trap, or confuse the apple’s would-be predators
  • Monitor the weather with sophisticated equipment
  • Keep records to determine pest levels and to target critical periods in their life cycles
  • Apply a chemical treatment only if a threshold for significant economic damage is reached

Growers have powerful incentives to use as few chemicals in the orchard as possible. They are expensive to purchase and apply. In New England, most farmers and their families live on the farm. Growing apples is hard work, a round-the-clock job requiring devotion to the land. Apple growers are part scientists, part environmentalists, who take immense pride in growing beautiful, delicious fruit and maintaining healthy orchard ecosystems.

There are many safeguards to guarantee the safety of the apples we eat. The heaviest pest pressures occur in the spring and early summer, beginning before the fruit is even formed, and often months before it is picked. Growers must follow the Environmental Protection Agency’s “pre-harvest intervals,” prescribed periods between the time the trees are sprayed and when it is safe to pick the fruit. Upon entering the packing house, the apples are floated in a long water bath before brushing and sorting begins.

The trend toward smaller dwarf and semi-dwarf trees means that less spray is needed to cover the tree canopies, and in some cases enables the grower to use drip lines instead. Whenever possible, growers spray near dawn when the air is still — this further limits chemical “drift.”

Consumers should always wash their fresh produce as a safeguard against mishandling between the time it leaves the farm and when it is purchased. Growers will continue to be vigilant in seeking effective, non-chemical treatments to combat the threats to their orchards. Consumers can help by being more accepting of minor blemishes to their fruit, the harmless patch of apple scab, the occasional spot or nick that typically keeps otherwise perfectly healthy fruit from the marketplace.

But as you will see from “Apple Growers Battle Pests with IPM,” our three-part video series, nearly every farmer is invested in producing healthy fruit in sustainable ways.

Part one addresses the first two of the five principles of IPM:

  • Prevent pest problems
  • Identify the pest

IPM, Part 2 covers:

  • Set an economic threshold
  • Monitor pest and damage

The series concludes with IPM, Part 3:

  • Use a combination of management tools

The three IPM programs are posted on the New England Apple Association website, newenglandapples.org, and on YouTube. Please forward the links to anyone who is interested in this important and fascinating topic.

Russell Steven Powell produced and directed the programs for the nonprofit New England Apple Association, and Associate Producer Bar Lois Weeks wrote the script. John Browne videographed, edited, and narrated the programs. Special thanks to John Rogers, Pete Rogers, and Greg Parzych of Rogers Orchards in Southington, Connecticut, Chuck Souther of Apple Hill Farm in Concord, New Hampshire, and IPM Field Scout Brian Farmer of Apple Leaf LLC, for sharing their knowledge and experiences.

The series was funded with grants from Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement and the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food, and its Division of Pesticide Control.

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IdaReds at Red Apple Farm, Phillipston, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Idareds at Red Apple Farm, Phillipston, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

AN EASY-TO-MAKE, satisfying-to-eat late-winter dessert is apple pandowdy. It’s really a deep-dish apple pie, with a thick apple filling and no bottom crust, but it is distinguished by its choice of sweetener — molasses, rather than sugar — and subtle blend of spices.

The origin of the word “pandowdy” is unknown, but it dates back to the early 1800s, according to Merriam-Webster. Some speculate that the name refers to the dish’s humble, plain origins (“pan” plus “dowdy”). It’s true that it doesn’t take long to make, especially if you keep the nutritious apple peels on, as we do. But that’s good, since apple pandowdy doesn’t last long, either. You can easily double this recipe and use a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.

Idared apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Idared apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

A good apple for this time of year is Idared, because its flavor develops greater sweetness and complexity after a few months in cold storage. Idareds are featured in many cider blends at this time of year and are outstanding in pies and in cooking.

A late-season apple, Idared was developed by Leif Verner at the Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station in Moscow, Idaho, in 1942. It is a cross between Jonathan and Wagener apples.

We paired two Idareds with two Mutsus from Rogers Orchards in Southington, Connecticut, for this recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking. It was delicious!

Apple Pandowdy

Crust

1 c  flour

1/4 c whole wheat flour

1/2 t salt

1-1/2 T butter

3 T water

Filling

4 large Idared, Mutsu or other New England apples

1/2 c molasses (or substitute boiled cider or maple syrup)

2 T cornstarch

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 t nutmeg

1/4 t salt

dash allspice

1 T butter

Preheat oven to 400°. Make crust by mixing flours and salt, and then cutting in butter with a fork or pastry blender. Gradually add water and mix until dough forms. Roll out to about the thickness of pie dough, in the shape of an 8” baking dish. Refrigerate until ready to use.

In large bowl, mix together molasses, cornstarch, and spices. Core and cut apples into 1/4” slices. Add to bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until apples are coated.

Place apples in 8” baking dish. Dot with butter. Place dough over top, folding in edges. Bake for 30 minutes.

Reduce heat to 350°. Remove pandowdy and cut crust into squares. Allow any juice to coat the crust by tipping the baking dish or pushing down on the crust with a spoon. (Depending on the type of apple you use, there may not be much juice at this point.)

Return baking dish to oven and bake for another 30 minutes, or until apples are soft. Press top with spoon to allow juices to cover crust. Let cool slightly before serving.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.

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