Growing Quality Local Produce Responsibly
It has been a busy couple of weeks out at the farm. The orchard is nearing the end of bloom and we started selling our spring greens and herb plants at farmers markets on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
After several late nights and early mornings waiting for calmer, rain free weather in order to spray blossom protectant on the apple and pear orchard, we are pretty exhausted. However, we are thankful that we decided this year to invest in a new weather station which allows us to keep track of weather forecast and run models for orchard diseases and pest pressure online. Basically, we are able to make more accurate decisions on when the orchard needs to be sprayed and justify having a smart phone.
Customers often ask if we use organic practices in our orchard. It is hard to answer this question with a yes or no answer. We do use several organic practices such as keeping the understory clean to reduce scab innoculum from overwintering. We use traps to monitor pest pressure and spray only when it is necessary. We consistently prune the orchard in order to improve airflow and reduce diseases. And we plant habitat that encourages beneficial insects. Still even with all of these methods we still find that we need to use conventional sprays to manage our biggest problem, Apple Scab, which thrives in our wet, humid weather in Iowa. Our primary goal in the orchard is to reduce our use of any spray (conventional or organic) by using an arsenal of tools; one of which is accurate weather information! If we have to spray, we are spraying more accurately during the most critical times, which in most cases means we are having to spray less often. If you are curious what the weather is doing out at the orchard, check out the link below: