My proposal is to harvest on-farm mature eastern cedar trees (Juniperus virginiana) to be used as posts for an eight foot fence to keep deer and raccoons from entering the orchard and eating the apple crop. Deer cause damage to newly planted trees, making it impossible to plant new varieties or replace missing trees. Deer winter-browse the mature tree’s fruiting buds on low branches, often killing the branch which leads to more fruit loss. Eastern cedar trees in proximity to an apple orchard have the ability to infect apple trees with the disease, Cedar Apple Rust/ CAR (Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae). A degree-day data field recorder/weather station designed to specifically support the agricultural community will help determine conditions that precede a CAR outbreak in the orchard. Checking the orchard canopy after the possible disease outbreak by leaf symptoms will determine the efficacy of the cultural practices in controlling the disease. Cutting down cedar trees and utilizing the larger cedar trunks for fence posts reduces the possibility of disease vectors that infect apple trees. Energy spent focusing on tree health in the absence of stressing over deer in the orchard and CAR will enhance the orchard’s viability to serve a greater community of consumers.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Create a deer and raccoon exclusion fence around the orchard.
- Monitor animal evidence with a field-style motion camera.
- Track Cedar Apple Rust events utilizing a field monitor designed for determining and recording potential disease outbreak.
- Host an on-farm field day showcasing an holistic approach that includes deer and disease control management options on a certified organic farm.
- Present a report on the project at the February, 2021 OFGA Growers Retreat, in conjunction with MOSES Organic Farming Conference poster sessions in La Crosse, WI.
- Write an article for the Organic Fruit Growers publication, “Just Picked,” in the fall of 2021 describing the project.