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Green apples: orchards with an eco-conscience

The base operating guidelines for all growers should be the New England Apple Pest Management Guide and the IPM checklist assembled by Lorraine P. Berkett and M. Elena Garcia of the Department of Plant and Soil Science at the University of Vermont. This checklist can be found on the Internet at: http://orchard.uvm.edu/uvmapple/pest/2000IPMChecklist.html - An IPM Checklist for Vermont.

With standard IPM operating measures in place, how should one take a step further toward even higher environmentally conscientious fruit production?

Each grower experiences conditions and challenges unique to their growing site. We need to continue developing our growing skills by experimenting with materials and growing practices which separate our fruit as superior in environmental sensitivity.

Recommended additional growing practices include the following:

1) Herbicide elimination. If this is not possible, then minimize usage to trees less than 4 years old with one application during the month of June. Weed control after the first of June on young trees should be manual/mechanical.

2) Begin to invest in the future of disease resistant plantings.

3) Begin to experiment and transition toward utilizing organic fertilizer inputs such as compost or Chilean Nitrate as sources of Nitrogen etc.

4) Begin to experiment with OMRI approved material substitutions which might increase production costs but increase environmental sensitivity of fruit.

5) Avoid post harvest drenching of fruit.

6) Minimize usage of Chemical Thinners by investing in tree nutrition, pruning, marketing of smaller fruit, and hand thinning of overcropped fruit.

7) Avoid the need to apply miticides by maintaining tree health, applying OMRI approved dormant oils, and maintaining predatory mite populations.

8) Eliminate usage of organophosphates such as Guthion.

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