Peach Orchard News

April 01, 2012

Peach and Strawberry Update

Noticed plum curculio (PC) larvae infested fruit had begun to drop from peach trees. I would estimate that fruit began to abort and drop on 3/28/12. This means that 1st eggs were laid about 3/14/12 this season. I will need to check with Dr. Mensah to see how PC activity is progressing at the Chilton Research and Extension Center.
Fruit are developing in peach orchards with the lower chill varieties progressing the most. However, in many of these varieties there seems to be a high number of fruit that were not pollinated. Beginning to see large seperation in size of fruit between unpollinated and pollinated within these varities.

Strawberry harvest has begun in Chilton County. Have seen some botrytis (gray mold) at light levels at this time. Fungicide program and spray intervals will need to be adjusted based on frequency of rainfall being received.

Posted by at 09:26 PM

March 28, 2012

Cool Season Trap Crops Working

Good growth was obtained with many of the cool season trap crops such as wheat. Now that seed heads are forming they are becoming attractive to leaffooted bugs and stink bugs. Dr. Clement Mensah reported high numbers in plots located between Montgomery and Auburn at EV Smith Research Center. These pests will be feeding and mating and laying eggs. Control in the trap crops is advised prior to insect movement out of these into the cash crop.
Weeds around fields can also be attractive to various pests. If these are mowed or killed you should be scouting your fields or orchards for movement of damaging insects into them.

Peach crop here in central Alabama are coming along nicely. Earlier than normal development of lower chill varieties has them about 10-14 days ahead of "normal". Some highest chill varieties are slow to develop due to the lack of chill hours over the winter. On most farms there are 3-4 varietie that fit this pattern of delayed development.
Peach growers are providing pest management treatments as needed and have begun to thin fruit to improve size on varieties that are advanced enough.

Posted by at 08:29 AM

March 13, 2012

Rapid Increase in Activity

Last Thursday we captured our first plum curculio (PC) in an unmanaged peach orchard here at the office. From four pyramid traps we caught 5 PC. Today, five days later we removed 23 or over 4 times the number of adults.

Peach trees in this block are old nemaguard rootstock and flower bud stage is early to mid petal fall. Normally higher number of PC coincides with open flower stage to petal fall.

Another interesting occurance is the higher number of PC found today at greater distance from the wooded border. Plum curculio typically migrate to woods and fence row type winter cover, out of the orchard. It would appear that perhaps more of the late season adults overwintered within the orchard this past winter.

If this is the case then growers using a targeted IPM approach might not be able to get by with only a border row/perimeter spray for the first post "Petal Fall" insecticide application for PC.

Black Pyramid Trap at Field Border for Plum Curculio Monitoring, 2007 R. Boozer

Posted by at 08:41 AM

March 09, 2012

Activity Increases for Plants and Bugs

Peach orchards throughout Central Alabama are actively moving into full bloom. The bloom period will stretch over a longer period of time this season with different varieties, due to the slow accumulation of chilling. Warm to mild weather conditions are influencing the trees but, also the insects.

Dr. Clement Mensah has already collected green stink bugs from some plots near his peach block at EV Smith Research Center between Auburn and Montgomery. Yesterday the first plum curculio were captured here at the Chilton Research and Extension Center.

In addition to warmer weather we have had frequent rain events. Both insect and disease pressure will likely be high as we enter this new season of fruit production.

Posted by at 09:24 AM

February 14, 2012

Delayed Winter Weather, Helping?

Seems we are just now beginning to see winter weather. This is typically what happens when we have a warmer than normal winter. We then see cold fronts dopping in on us late in February and scattered through March and early April. Fruit growers have to continue with horticultural and pest management programs. We work the crop as if we are going to have the crop until we see we don't have the crop.
It's obvious that 650 chill hour varieties benefited by the damp cool weather that dominated much of January, even with the temperatures often slightly about 45 degrees F. These varieties are showing considerable bud development and maturity in central Alabama. However, higher chill varieties are not showing much bud movement. I do believe they are benefiting by the colder temperatures we are now seeing. If we get a significant amount of warm weather following this cold front then I think effective chilling will be about over for this season.
A grower in South Carolina told me the other day while we were visitng about the use of rest breaking chemicals on peaches. "We don't need to over farm, we just need to farm". We can't predict the weather or the outcome, we just have to farm based on what we know and where we are in the crop cycle.
Right now it's time to consider dormant oil applications on peach in central Alabama. We normally make a dormant or delayed dormant application of oil at 1%-2% volume/volume application. We also have to consider varieties that have a tendency to have problems with bacterial spot and follow the copper recommendations for reducing or controling that disease. These recommendations and those for other fruit crops can be found in the regional IPM guides.
Strawberries that were not covered when the sub-freezing temperatures came in Sunday monring lost flowers and loose buds if they were not covered or protected. However, these plants will continue to force out new buds and flower with the potential to recover and make our crop. Peaches in flower or pink bud stage were damaged but, from what I've seen the amount of damage was minimal.
Below is an example of the effect of "rest breaking" product applied on January 29, 2002 to 'Cresthaven' peach.
UTC Cresthaven 2002.png
'Cresthaven' Untreated Control, April 5, 2002, photo by Robert Boozer
HC Cresthaven 2002.png

'Cresthaven' 2% Hydrogen Cyanamide, April 5, 2002, photo by Robert Boozer

Posted by at 03:15 PM