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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Midwest Fruit IPM final report

My regular readers know that I have been attending the Midwest Fruit IPM class sponsored by the University of Wisconsin Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems.  The class has involved 4 sessions in Wisconsin and Michigan with a brief foray into Minnesota.   We have spent over 100 hours in 14 days looking at managing pests in Grapes, Apples, and Cherries.

We began our last session at Barthel Fruit Farm near Mequon, WI looking at how Bob Barthels  and Nino Ridgeway manage the Apple portion of this farm.  They use some innovative techniques to enhance production.  Next we went to Peck and Bushel Fruit Company, a start up organic orchard near Colgate, Wisconsin.  Joe and Jennifer Fahey will have some apples for sale this fall.  They will soon be fully certified.  The orchard looks good at this point with about 4.5 acres of apples. 

Wednesday morning we looked at Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery near Kewaunee, WI.  to hear Steve and Carl discuss how they manage pests n their Vineyard.  In the afternoon we visited Choice Orchards near Sturgeon Bay, WI to look at cherry production and pests. The field portion of the class finished up with a tour of the University of Wisconsin and ARS  Peninsular Research Station near Sturgeon Bay.  I am grateful for our hosts and instructors who provided us with excellent training.

We finished the class by writing Integrated Pest Management plans for one of the above mentioned operations.  About 2 hours was allowed for preparation and presentations were another 2 hours.  Considering the time allowed, all plans were well done.  I started this class with little knowledge about the fruit and grape business and finished with a workable knowledge that I can use to advise growers.  The best thing about the class was the 6 state network that we now have to look to for help with big problems.  Networking is one of the only ways for independent consultants to get help with sticky questions.

One of the most interesting things about the class was contrasting organic growers and approaches with more conventional systems.  I say conventional but all the growers we visited were progressive in their approach to chemical use.  All are trying to avoid some of the older broad spectrum insecticides and are trying to avoid allowing fungal diseases to develop resistance to crop protectants.

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