Promoting Apple IPM Implementation in Eastern New York Orchards by Expansion of the Northeast Weather Association (NEWA)
Integrated pest management (IPM) practices require apple growers to use weather information and pest forecast models. The Northeast Weather Association (NEWA) can provide both for free, fostering IPM implementation, environmental conservation, and land stewardship. But NEWA is unavailable in Eastern NY. Four Eastern NY growers are committed to purchasing weather stations, connecting to NEWA, and serving as grower educators to promote IPM implementation and the sustainability of apple production in their region. In this demonstration project the cooperating growers will learn to use NEWA, source weather data, interpret weather data and pest forecast models, and integrate weather data with scouting and monitoring to improve IPM practices. The project will be evaluated through feedback during the growing season, grower satisfaction with NEWA, and analysis of IPM practice implementation, spray data and yield evaluations. The outreach plan will target other apple growers in Eastern NY who will benefit from the expansion of NEWA into Eastern NY. Outreach delivered in extension newsletters, emails and meetings will provide information on accessing NEWA and include interpretation of the NEWA-based pest forecast model predictions to promote IPM implementation. Because apple IPM practices require the use of pest forecast models and not every grower has a weather station, the advantages of the NEWA system’s instantaneous outreach potential to all growers in Eastern NY are considerable.
This demonstration project will focus on methods to successfully expand NEWA into Eastern NY while supporting the commitment and cooperation of the four apple growers who will purchase weather stations and serve as grower educators. Growers will learn how to use NEWA, source weather data, interpret weather data and pest forecast models, and integrate weather data with scouting and monitoring to improve IPM practices. The project will be evaluated through feedback during the growing season, grower satisfaction with the NEWA system, and analysis of IPM practice implementation, spray data and yield evaluations.
Weather stations and associated equipment will be purchased by the growers and placed in their four orchards in Clinton, Saratoga, Ulster and Dutchess counties in Eastern NY. Weather stations, modems and phone lines will be configured to automatically deliver data daily to NEWA. Growers will learn how to protect the weather station from lightening and basic weather station troubleshooting skills so, if, for example, a bird builds a nest in the rain gauge, the growers can fix the problem and contact NEWA so the archived weather data can be corrected.
The navigation and use of the NEWA website will be demonstrated to each grower. Growers will learn how to use the IPM pest forecast models, including the apple scab ascospore maturity degree-day model and modified Mills Table, MARYBLIGHTÓ and Cougar Blight for fire blight, and the degree-day models for insect pests. Growers will also learn how to obtain and use the appropriate biofix date for each pest forecast model, including monitoring pheromone trap catches at critical times, and interpreting pest forecast models for improved IPM decisions.
On average, growers will spend 3 hours per week accessing NEWA and the pest forecast models, depending on the adversity of the weather, crop phenology, and pest pressure. Growers will be contacted at least weekly by phone or email to support and assist them with IPM implementation from the NEWA pest forecast models. Problems with the weather stations will be reported to the NYS IPM Program and corrective actions taken. Orchard visits will be conducted at least monthly during the growing season to assess IPM implementation strategies, troubleshoot equipment, and receive feedback on NEWA pest model delivery on the website.
Eastern New York apple growers will be informed about the availability of NEWA apple pest forecast models through extension newsletters. Fargione and Iungerman will publish NEWA pest forecast model predictions in their extension newsletters and pest alerts and these will also be linked to the NEWA web site to assist growers not involved in the project with pest forecast model interpretation. Other growers wanting to purchase a weather station to connect to NEWA will be informed of how to achieve this. Grower cooperators will serve as educators for their regions at summer tours, winter meetings, and informal gatherings.
Information on other sources of weather data, weather stations and instruments will be collated and made available to interested growers so they are able to decide what best suits their needs. Feedback from grower cooperators will be used to improve the NEWA system. Growers will be interviewed to determine their level of satisfaction with and use of NEWA and whether they benefited from NEWA. At the end of the growing season growers’ IPM practices, spray records, fruit quality, and marketing will be assessed against the prior year to determine the level of benefit derived from using NEWA. Data will be analyzed and reports published and presented at meetings.
We have successfully installed and connected to 3 weather stations in Eastern New York. These are Clifton Park (April 2004), Clintondale (September 2004), and Chazy (October 2004). All are accessible from the NEWA website. A fourth weather station, at Red Hook, has been returned to the manufacturer due to technical difficulties.
Technical difficulties on this project prevented us from completing our growing season pest management objectives and we have applied for a no-cost extension of one year. Technical difficulties included the need to source another manufacturer for the weather stations used in the NEWA network, because the prior manufacturer stopped making agricultural equipment. The current manufacturer, RainWise, Inc. has been very supportive and has extended a 30% discount for their commercial-grade weather stations to all growers who join the NEWA network. In addition they have created software to effectively interface with the NEWA network and are currently retrofitting the Red Hook weather station for DSL data delivery – nullifying the need for a modem and the associated electrical storm risks and daily modem-call phone charges.
One weather station, Clifton Park, was installed in time for the 2004 growing season trap-based monitoring of insect pests and associated pest forecast models on NEWA. The grower, Kevin Bowman, Bowman Orchards, had an old weather station (compatible with the NEWA network) that was upgraded and connected to the network in April 2004. Kevin monitored traps for Oriental fruit moth and codling moth and utilized the NEWA pest forecast models and weather data from his weather station directly from the NEWA web site.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Kevin Bowman, Bowman Orchards, Clifton Park, has been using NEWA since April when his weather station was hooked up. He said he accessed it online every day until harvests started. He really likes NEWA; especially how he can access weather data from his desk on a rainy day. His primary uses have been for apple scab and apple maggot.
The above information is all we can report at this time due to the technical difficulties described in the Accomplishments /Milestones section. One of the feared outcomes was that growers would exit the project. However, we have been able to keep them involved and interested with the prospect of pest management outcomes in the 2005 growing season. Furthermore, the DSL software capacity being investigated by RainWise will be compatible with both the Clintondale and Chazy farm locations as both have DSL.
Fraleigh's Rose Hill Farm
19 Rose Hill Farm Rd.
Red Hook, NY 12571
Office Phone: 8457584215
Cooperative Extension Area Specialist
Northeastern NY Regional Fruit Program
Cornell Cooperative Extension
50 West High St.
Ballston Spa, NY 12020
Office Phone: 5188858995