Toward Sustainability in Northeastern Apple Production: Orchard Ecosystem Architecture, Key Pests, and Cultivar Selection

2000 Annual Report for LNE00-135

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2000: $134,030.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $158,977.00
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Daniel Cooley
Stockbridge School of Agriculture

Toward Sustainability in Northeastern Apple Production: Orchard Ecosystem Architecture, Key Pests, and Cultivar Selection


Participants will refine biologically based approaches to controlling four key apple pests – flyspeck disease, mites, plum curculio and apple maggot — that, along with apple scab account for 90 percent of the pesticide use on apples in the Northeast. The project will evaluate 20 new cultivars for yield, quality and susceptibility to these pests, and will examine the influences of cultivar selection, arrangement, tree size and planting density on the success of biological control strategies.

1. Reduce substantially pesticide reliance in regional apple production through refinement of biologically based management of key apple pests.
2. Enhance sustainability of northeastern apple production through evaluation of new apple cultivars.

Project description
Apple orchards in the Northeast are among the most pesticide-intensive agroecosystems in the USA. Twenty years of research and implementation of integrated pest management (IPM) in Massachusetts has led to adoption of IPM by about 75 percent of Massachusetts apple growers and a 30 percent to 50 percent reduction in pesticide use. Such decrease, however, has leveled off. Further decrease is possible only by advancing to a more sustainable approach of managing three key arthropod pests (plum curculio, apple maggot, mites) and two key diseases (apple scab, flyspeck), together accounting for more than 90 percent of current pesticide on apples.
The focus here is on refining sustainable approaches to managing plum curculio and apple maggot (now controlled by organophosphate insecticides that face withdrawal under Food Quality Protection Act), flyspeck and mites. New Hampshire is developing sustainable apple scab management). For FY 1998-2000, we received SARE funding to support a reduction of summer pesticide use in northeast apple orchards, with particular attention to developing biologically-based methods of controlling above key pests and on evaluating influence of apple tree architecture (tree size and planting density) on performance of bio-based methods. Our intent is to further develop and refine bio-based approaches generated during FY 1998-2000, and place emphasis on evaluating influence of apple orchard ecosystem architecture on performance of bio-based methods, including selection and arrangement of apple cultivars as components of orchard architecture. Bio-based approaches will include refinement of visual and odor components of traps for monitoring and directly controlling plum curculio; validation and refinement of robust predictive models for managing flyspeck using ecologically safe fungicides; refinement of deployment strategies of odor-baited spheres for controlling apple maggot, along with using safe and simple pesticide-treated spheres in place of sticky spheres; and enhancement of biocontrol of mites by releasing T. pyri predators (plus pollen to speed reproduction) and planting American hazel shrubs in borders to foster A. fallacis predators. Focus here will also be on evaluating 20 new apple cultivars for susceptibility to key pests and assessing cultivar yield and quality. We will conduct on-farm research in 12 commercial orchards, which will promote relevancy and rapid transfer of findings to northeastern growers.

Approved March 2000.


Arthur Tuttle
Extension Educator I
Dept. of Microbiology, 203 Morrill IVN
Amherst, MA 01003
Office Phone: 4135453748
Duane Greene
Profesor of Pomology
Dept. of Plant and Soil Science
Bowditch Hall
Amherst, MA 01003
Office Phone: 4135455219
Wesley Autio
Professor of Pomology
University of Massachusetts
Dept. Of Plant and Soil Science
Bowditch Hall
Amherst, MA 01003
Office Phone: 4135452963
Isabel Jacome

Technical Assistant I
Dept. of Entomology
Fernald Hall
Amherst, MA 01003
Office Phone: 4135451258
Jon Clements
Tree Fruit Extension Specialist/ Educator
UMASS Extension
UMASS Cold Spring Research and Education Orchard
391 Sabin St.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Office Phone: 4134787219
Website: www.umass.fruitadvisor
Jan Nyrop

Assoc. Professor of Entomology
Cornell University
Dept. of Entomology
Ithaca, NY
William Coli
State IPM Coordinator
Entomology West
Agricultural Engineering Building
Amherst, MA 01003
Office Phone: 4135451051