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Effective comparison trials in a tiny orchard

Posted by Prairie Sundance 
Effective comparison trials in a tiny orchard
June 29, 2021 08:12PM
My haralson is almost scab free this year, must be because of the whey we’ve been spraying, or maybe it was the fermented plant gunk, or maybe it was just the drought this spring.

I’d love to do some real science in our orchard to figure out what we need to do to keep things healthy, and to share with others, but I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around designing any real study because of our orchard size. We’ve got 50 some odd apples, 30 or so varieties. I tried to pick mostly heritage apples with some claim to disease resistance and flavor. I could split our apple block in half, but many varieties wouldn’t be represented in both sides of the study. I could not spray one of each of the apples that we have duplicates of, but that would mean breaking up any possibility of keeping the control in a “block,” the rootstocks would be different, and a number of them don’t have twins. Our stone fruits are even more limited, with around a dozen each of most types of fruit.

Any opinions on the best route to go or the actual value of any data from such a limited study? I’ve learned quite a bit from this forum and would love to give back.


SW Wisconsin zone 5a/4b
Homestead/community orchard
2ish acres with half planted in 2018-2019 with heritage apples, alternating b118, antonovka, and seedling roots
Second half planted 2021-22 with plums, cherries, apricot, peach, pears, etc...
SE slope, trees are planted in contoured berms
Native prairie species for all ground cover

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/30/2021 08:19PM by Michael Phillips.
Re: Effective comparison trials in a tiny orchard
July 04, 2021 06:38AM
I have a small orchard too, about 1 acre in size but a multiplicity of tree species and varieties. No two the same among the fruit trees at least, of which there are about 50 of a total of 110.
Experimental design with multiple factors is hardly possible for us.
I have proposed over in another forum that one way forward is to host a cloud drive of our orchard logs. Once we find a couple of orchards with similiar geography and climate, we can compare our results, applications of holistic sprays, degree days, pest pressures, etc.
What say you?

Old 99 Farm and permaculture site
Dundas ON 5b
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