April 2013


The 2013 Fruit tree catalog has been emailed. If you did not get a copy and want one, send a request to NMFruitGrowers@aol.com

Experts have long warned that weeds may compete with cultivated crops for nutrients and water.

But now research by a team from Washington State University and the United Kingdom has found that weeds may reduce the amount of plant-based nutrients in raspberries, according to a news release.

WSU weed scientist Tim Miller worked with fruit researchers in the United Kingdom last summer on a series of trials that examined weeds and herbicides and their relationship to plant-based or phytonutrients.

The UK team had already developed a method to measure the amount of several compounds in raspberries and black currants, two fruits that have been dubbed superfruits because of large amounts of antioxidants.

The 2012 trial in Scotland linked some hard-to-control weeds, such as broadleaf dock, fireweed and quackgrass, to reduced sugar, vitamin C, color and juice content in the berries.

Tim MillerCourtesy Washington State UniversityWashington State University weed scientist Tim Miller will travel to Scotland to work with colleagues on trial gauging the affect of weeds on raspberry and black currant nutritional content.

And the trials will be repeated this year to determine whether environmental responses during 2012 may have affected the outcome or whether the quality factors respond the same two years in a row.

“A better understanding of the potential effects of management decisions will give growers one more tool to improve not only the yield of their fruit, but also the quality of those fruits for consumers,” Miller said in the release.

 

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While we often hear of the continual and indiscriminate use of antibiotics in dairy and poultry operations, how many knew the prevalence of common antibiotic use on, of all things, organic farms.  Many people believe this use in factory farming is what is leading to the new super -bugs or antibiotic resistant bacterial strains such as MRSA.   Die hard organic types are trying to get the USDA to disallow its use, while the huge farms are fighting to keep it.  See news from Cornucopia below as to the hearings this week.

UPDATE: Antibiotics in Organics— News from Portland, Clarifications and Amplification http://www.cornucopia.org/2013/04/update-antibiotics-in-organics-news-from-portland-clarifications-and-amplification/ Sparks really flew at the National Organic Standards Board meeting in Portland, Oregon yesterday. In one of the most contentious issues to come before the organic community, in many years, the continued use of antibiotics (oxytetracycline) on tree fruit was on the agenda. Image Photo Courtesy of Skånska Matupplevelser Apple growers from Washington State petitioned the USDA to allow for the continued use of oxytetracycline to control fire blight on apple and pear trees. The current conditional use is set to expire. Some farmers testified that they would go out of business, or exit organics, if the agrichemical, which is the same material as is used to treat human illness, is prohibited from use. Public interest groups presented over 35,000 signatures from concerned consumers. It was disturbing that certain members of the corporate sector in organics, even before the meeting started, attempted to discredit and devalue the outpouring of sentiment from consumers (mostly accomplished through web-based petitions). Even Consumers Union, the respected publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, was challenged on the propriety of their findings. Although medical experts testified that environmental contamination, by using air blast sprayers to apply the same antibiotics as humans depend on, over wide acreage, is much more of a danger in developing antibiotic resistant bacterium, consumers are understandably concerned when measurable residues of drugs are found in certified organic fruit (or any food for that matter). Please consult The Cornucopia Institute website and Facebook page for updates on the final outcome of today’s voting in Portland. MAK LATEBREAKING NEWS: We thank the NOSB for voting to prohibit the following non-organic or synthetic substances that were not essential to organic production and/or dangerous to human health or the environment (in some cases the manufacturers of these materials refused to transparently share their production methodology in order to fully evaluate their products). 1. Conventional sugar beet fiber – unanimous against 2. DBDMH (antimicrobial treatment in meat processing) – unanimous against 3. Sulfuric acid (for processing seaweed as a nutraceutical) – unanimous against 4. Conventional barley fiber (as a nutritional additive) – 12 to 3 against ——————————————————————————– Antibiotics in Organic Tree Fruit Production — Simple Questions/Answers USDA is deliberating these questions right now in Portland, OR http://www.cornucopia.org/2013/04/antibiotics-in-organic-tree-fruit-production-simple-questionsanswers/ Photo Courtesy of Reini68 Is the Use of This Material a Threat to Human Health? There is no debate that low level, chronic dietary exposure to antibiotics is deleterious to human health. This is especially important in light of the disproportionate intake of apples and apple products by children. Some medical officials see the real risk in the wholesale disbursement into the environment of antibiotic resistant bacteria. 80% of antibiotic usage is in agriculture (mostly in livestock production). There’s certainly also legitimate concern in terms of occupational exposure to antibiotics in the workplace (farmers and farmworkers— most of the research coming from the livestock sector). Is the Use of This Material a Threat to the Environment? There is concern that applying broad-spectrum antibiotics in pear and apple orchards, using air blast sprayer technology, will have an impact on microbial life and the biodiversity of the farm. Federal law governing organics mandates that negative impacts to biodiversity be considered. Is This Material Essential in Organic Production? It was reported by Washington researchers, at the National Organic Coalition meeting Monday, April 8, that last year, a “bad year” for fire blight in Washington, that only a minimal number of organic producers used antibiotics. Growers producing fruit for export to Europe don’t use antibiotics because they are banned from use under international organic regulations (Canada, European Union, Codex Alimentarius , IFOAM). The Cornucopia Institute surveyed all certified organic apple and pear growers in the United States. Of the apple producers who responded to the survey (a strong 11% response rate), The majority, 56%, reported that they have never used oxytetracycline or streptomycin in their orchards. Even in the giant apple producing state of Washington, 54% had never used antibiotics on their trees/fruit. Obviously, the majority of farmers have proven, by using more conservative cultural practices (not crowding trees, using resistant cultivars and rootstock, etc.) and naturally-based remedies, that the use of antibiotics is not essential in apple production. Pears are generally much more susceptible to fire blight and more research is necessary before making conclusions about successful alternative production practices. Mark A. Kastel Senior Farm Policy Analyst The Cornucopia Institute Please “like” and share this posting on Facebook. A large response on Facebook might very well impress members of the National Organic Standards Board who are meeting in Portland, Oregon, through Thursday, debating this issue. http://www.cornucopia.org/2013/04/update-antibiotics-in-organics-news-from-portland-clarifications-and-amplification/ The Cornucopia Institute is recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) public interest group. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of law. P.O. Box 126 Cornucopia, Wisconsin 54827 http://www.cornucopia.org

By Catherine Smith (doccat5)
April 8, 2013

 

Well let us consider the ancient art form of espalier. What is espalier? It is any tree or shrub pruned and formed (trained) against a wall. Espalier differs from topiary in that in espalier it forms the skeleton of the tree, while topiary forms the silhouette by pruning alone.

Gardening picture

This technique originated in France and England in the 16th century, out of the practical need for growing fruit in such marginal climates as northern France and southern England. Traditionally it is used primarily on dwarf apple and/or pear trees, but other types of plants can be trained in this manner.

The Six Basic Espalier Styles

Cordon: Most traditional form of espalier. Grows horizontally for a distance, lending itself well as a garden-bed divider. Can be a single cordon, also known as “rope,” or a multicordon, generally with three tiers of branches. The multicordon takes two to three years to reach definition. May take longer on the East Coast because of shorter growing seasons.


Palmetto Verrier:
Vertical branching adds nice definition between trees planted against a wall or fence. Horizontally trained branches are gradually trained into upright positions. Design can take up to three years to reach definition.


Fan: Suitable for areas requiring vertical coverage; will best cover a square space. Style defines quickly; can have clear definition within one year. Branches angled at 45° can be raised or lowered for greatest fruit yield.


Informal:
Tree is allowed to take on a more natural shape; requires simple pruning to keep on a two-dimensional plane. Somewhat easier to train-simply balance the tree’s aesthetic symmetry as the branches begin to grow.


Belgian fence: Lattice effect offers one of the most formal looking styles. Requires three trees or more to create overlapping Vs and two modified Vs to create finished ends. Within one year, the beginning design of overlapping Vs is well outlined.


Candelabra:
Also known as “Brooklyn Botanical.” Several vertical branches stem off one horizontal base. Fairly easy to train and maintain.

BENEFITS OF ESPALIER.
First of all, espaliers save space. An espaliered fruit tree provides loads of fruit in a fraction of the volume of a natural tree.

Second, an espaliered tree bears earlier than a natural tree, bears much more heavily (in spite of the reduced number of branches), and bears for a longer time. A well-trained espalier often remains fruitful for over a hundred years. An espaliered tree is pruned and trained so that all of its energies are concentrated in the production of fruit-bearing wood. Once the skeleton or ‘chassis’ of the tree is established, all the gardener’s efforts focus on the development of vital, healthy fruiting wood.

 

Image

 

Third, an espaliered fruit tree is healthier than an unpruned, untrained tree. Increased air circulation throughout the tree in available by using this technique. Secondly, the frequent attentions of the gardener required to maintain the espalier mean that he or she spots problems early on and applies appropriate interventions more promptly, thus needing less spraying.

An espaliered fruit tree is much easier and faster to harvest. Likewise, any necessary treatments can be applied more quickly and easily, and with a lesser volume of spray than on a natural tree.

Finally, the interesting part, from an aesthetic point of view. An espaliered fruit tree becomes a piece of landscape sculpture. It is beautiful in all seasons of the year.

The art of espalier also allows you to solve vexing landscape problems in interesting ways. For instance, no prettier enhancement to bare house wall exists than to train an espaliered fruit tree against it. If that wall has windows, you can choose a form that artfully frames them. And best of all, horizontal space is not an issue, as the espalier will cling flat against the wall. At the same time, an espalier will not harm the wall of your house as will many climbing plants with holdfasts.

Some growers simply enjoy the aesthetic value of espaliered trees, with their traditional symmetrical branch forms resembling fans and candelabras. These forms are created by snipping off unwanted branches and training others to move down toward the desired position. These unique forms make exquisite garden focal points: during winter, the branching patterns are revealed; during the spring, apple blossoms in varying shades of white and pink decorate the tree; during the summer, there is a two- or three-week stage of dramatic showy blossoms. Also, because you can train them to grow against almost any supportive structure, they are wonderful “cover-ups” for unattractive walls, fencing, or compost bins.


Espaliered fruit trees can also be used as elegant screens and fences. Free-standing forms make incredibly beautiful vertical accents in any garden–living sculptures that provide not only a feast for the eyes, but for the tongue and tummy as well.

Along with pear trees, apple trees are the traditional espalier subject because their spurs live for years producing fruit. Espalier apple trees bear fruit at a young age and are versatile in nature, with their supple, easily trained new growth. However, you’ll need to practice delayed gratification because most of these trees take approximately three years to mature and reach the desired design. For some growers, this is too large a drawback. But if you don’t mind the wait, your patience and creativity will pay off in the long run, with bushels of yummy fruit and a very attractive unusual focal point in your landscape design.


THE TRADE-OFF: Most espaliered trees need approximately three years to attain the desired design and reach maturity. If you can stand the wait, you’ll be rewarded with beautifully structured trees and bushels worth of fresh apples, pears and other fruits.