The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has posted the results of recent precision apple orchard management research evaluating the impact of applying precise orchard management practices to improve the yield, fruit size and quality of the regional apple crop for a more consistent higher economic return per acre.
Three specific strategies are under evaluation by a research team of Northern New York apple growers, Cornell University faculty, and Cornell Cooperative Extension personnel. The orchard management practices, designed to enhance the efficiency of apple production, include precision orchard thinning, irrigation, and harvest timing.
The complete results of the project are posted on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website. The report also includes data from orchards in Ontario, Orleans, Ulster and Wayne counties.
The computer models component of the precision orchard management system provided information to the Northern NY growers for best timing and application rates for thinning fruit blossoms to achieve an optimal cropload per apple tree and data for irrigation timing and amounts based on soil type and tree age.
One Clinton County apple grower evaluated tree growth, stress, crop yield, fruit size, and fruit quality in both irrigated and non-irrigated orchard blocks. The Cornell researchers estimate that, depending on orchard density and age, a lack of irrigation can decrease the apple crop value between $3,859 and $6,809 per 100 acres.
Two apple growers participated in precision harvesting of the Honeycrisp apple variety to compare a pre-harvest data to post-harvest production with the goal of creating specific parameters for better sorting fruit for short-term sales and longer-term storage and sales.
The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program provides grants for on-farm research and technical assistance projects in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered through the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.
Photo: Precision apple project sensory panel members evaluate Honeycrisp apples sampled weekly from several orchards throughout New York State, courtesy Poliana Francescatto, Cornell University.