Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Northern New York Apple Trials Help Orchard Owners

New York apples ready to be picked.
A Cornell University horticulturist said results of orchard management trials in the North Country are excellent.

Horticulture Professor Terence Robinson said the four trials, funded by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development, were designed to help regional apple growers increase orchard efficiency and profitability.

During the past 10 years, Robinson has developed a precision thinning system that provides apple growers with real-time data for the best timing and rates for growth inhibitor spraying applications that reduce bud count. Reducing the number of early season buds encourages the growth of a precisely targeted optimal number of apples.

Cornell University Horticulture Professor Terence Robinson, second from right, conducts a precision management tour in a NY apple orchard. Photo: Kevin A. Iungerman
Success with the precise management practice known as orchard thinning saves growers labor, time and expense.

The NNY regional apple industry harvests $16 million net revenue from about 5,000 acres of orchards. Growers are increasingly adopting practices that research data shows increase the percentage of crop harvested in the highest price categories based on fruit size, color and quality.

Cornell Cooperative Extension Fruit Specialist Anna Wallis assisted Robinson with field trials in Honeycrisp plantings at four orchards in Chazy and Peru, Clinton County. The growers counted flower buds, calculated the target number of fruits per tree to achieve a desired high yield and measured fruit diameter. 

The Cornell research team analyzed the data and within 24 hours provided each grower an exact assessment of orchard cropload with recommendations for the next thinning application to maintain harvest goals.

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has granted new funding for precision apple orchard management trials in 2015. More details and the Precision Orchard Management Strategies for NNY Apple Growers to Increase Profitability research report are online at 

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