Good Fruit Grower

May 1

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Organic & Sustainable Ag Organic HURDLES Eastern apple growers face barriers that keep organic acreage low. by Richard Lehnert G rowing apples in the eastern United States under USDA organic certification standards is not easy, and it's still not clear whether there is much future in it outside of a few niche markets. The recent invasion by the brown marmorated stinkbug poses one more hurdle, a high one, since this fruit feeder is difficult to control even with synthetic pesticides and is only minimally deterred by approved organic insecticides such as neem oil and pyrethrums. Weekly applications of Surround (kaolin clay) may be the organic grower's best chance at controlling BMSB. There is a small, solid core of consumers who want East Coast organic apples, and researchers from at least six eastern land-grant universities have projects under way to help potential growers overcome production and marketing challenges. In 2007, according to research conducted by Dr. Gregory Peck, eastern growers needed consumers to pay a 56 percent price premium over another certification scheme called integrated fruit production (IFP) to be paid enough to grow them. That premium might be achievable for direct market operations—particularly those catering to affluent clientele—but the large volume of organic apples that are grown in Washington State largely dictates the price premium in the wholesale marketplace. Gregory Peck Peck is an assistant professor of tree fruit horticulture at Virginia Tech. He obtained a doctorate from Cornell University in 2009, where he worked with Dr. Ian Merwin and co-authored with him "A Grower's Guide to Organic Apples," a 71-page A-to-Z guide for would-be-organic eastern growers. Peck spoke about the future of organic apple production in the East during a session of the International Fruit Tree Association annual conference in Boston in February. History is not on the side of the eastern growers, he said. "When the National Organic Program was put in place in 2002, large parts of the USDA standards that were adopted came from West Coast certifiers," he said. The standards tend to reflect what needs to be done in arid, desert climates like California and Washington State, not what needs to be done to control the huge complex of diseases and insects that thrive in the humid, rainy East. Not surprisingly, there are, according to the last agricultural census, 13,000 acres of organic apples in Washington and 3,200 in California, but only 465 in New York and 358 in Michigan—the two largest apple producers in the East. But even in Washington, Peck said, research has shown that organic growers need at least a 35 percent price premium if they are to be as profitable as conventional growers. When big isn't big enough! Get the results you want with KDL® 0-0-24, AGRO-K's foliar nutrient fruit sizing program BIG cherries with great color and high sugar offer growers the best returns. This year's large bloom and heavy crop set increases the risk of small fruit and uneven maturity. Maximize your returns by maximizing your fruit size and uniform maturity at harvest with KDL®, Agro-K's foliar cherry sizer! Peak demand timing for potassium in cherries begins at color break and should be supported by foliar potassium, in the right chemical form, to maximize cherry size, color and sugar and to encourage uniform fruit maturity at harvest. Agro-K's unique sugar-based potassium formulation, KDL® 0-0-24, applied beginning at color break, can dramatically improve cherry size, color and sugar, while encouraging uniform fruit maturity. KDL links potassium to a sugar complex that quickly penetrates fruit and leaf tissue – encouraging the sugar development process within the leaf and aiding in transport into the fruit – leading to increased sugar levels and improved color. KDL also maximizes cell bulking leading to larger, firmer cherries that ship better and store longer. Bulking, sugar content and color are all indicators of ripening fruit. By influencing these quality factors, KDL also promotes greater uniform maturity at harvest for less small green fruit. KDL is compatible with most pesticides used for powdery mildew and fruit fly. For more information on how KDL® can influence your cherry crop, contact Agro-K today. 16 May 1, 2013 GOOD FRUIT GROWER AGRO-K CORPORATION Science-Driven Nutrition SM

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