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GrowOrganicApples.com is a Holistic Orchard Network: Together we can Grow Organic Apples as part of the local foods movement.
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Holistic Orchard Research

Resisting Disease

Understanding the annual cycles of a given disease is integral to reducing crop loss, just as with insect pests. Controlling the first round of fungal infection eliminates the need to worry about secondary infection with scab and powdery mildew. Preventative thinking relies foremost on orchard sanitation. Elemental fungicides are one way to protect trees from blown-in inoculum when favorable conditions make infection likely. Holistic approaches include fostering a competitive fungal environment as well as stimulating the tree's "immune system" with plant medicines. We need to fully understand the mode of action of any treatment used if we're to apply it effectively and in the least harmful manner. Our actions (and reactions) always bear upon the balance of life forces at play in the orchard ecosystem.

"Fungal disease per se is not some sort of manifest destiny that happens to apple trees."
Michael Phillips

Discoveries on the Disease Front

Getting Orchard Sanitation up to Snuff

The name of the game is enhancing digestion forces on the orchard floor! Please report on the use of pulsing agents (and timing) to stimulate decomposers into action.

Early lesions of apple scab become visible on the leaf 7 to 10 days after the infection occurs. Photo by Alan Biggs, NRAES.
Early lesions of apple scab become visible on the leaf 7 to 10 days after the infection occurs. Photo by Alan Biggs, NRAES.

Apple Scab

The need to learn to minimize the use of sulfur in the holistic orchard is paramount. Tell us here about your "dance with scab" in ascertaining when to spray and when not to spray.

  • Much ado is made in the revised Apple Grower about "leaf crevice coverage" and the gauging of ascospore maturity (see chart on page 184) in determining the need to spray sulfur. Growers need to understand infection parameters exceedingly well in order to maintain that deeper level of natural protection provided by competing microorganisms.
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Descartes -- click for Holistic Orchard Network Discussion Forum
Explore even more nuance in our grower discussion forum.
Sooty blotch cannot be ignored on a yellow apple! Photo by K. D. Hickey, NRAES.
Sooty blotch can't be ignored
on a yellow apple!
Photo by K. D. Hickey, NRAES.

The Nuances of Compost Tea

Creating a competitive environment in the phyllosphere holds wide appeal. What results do you have to report?

  • Matt Pearson in New Jersey shares that compost tea enhanced with Serenade has eliminated his brown rot woes with peaches.

Inducing Systemic Resistance

While the search for native herb remedies goes on, numerous growers are trialing pure neem oil for insect balance, disease suppression, and outrageous tree health.

Rust lesions are scattered randomly on the apple leaf. Photo courtesy of NY Agricultural Experiment Station.
Rust lesions are scattered randomly
on the apple leaf.
Photo courtesy of NY
Agricultural Experiment Station
.

Cedar Apple Rust

This disease can be a major concern for growers in the middle zones of the country. Any inklings to share with your friends?

Summer Disease Suppression

Ideas abound as to how to curtail sooty blotch and flyspeck . . . let's hear what works for you!

  • Don McLean in New York notes that Stylet oil applied every two weeks starting in mid-July at 2% concentration makes for far cleaner-looking fruit.
Adapted illustration by John Bunker, FEDCO Trees -- click for Holistic Orchard Research home page

Every fruit grower has worthy contributions to make to these pages. . . so please contact Michael Phillips about your own orcharding research experiences, novel ideas, and success stories.

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Holistic Orchard Research


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