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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 873: Organic Fruit Conference

HORTICULTURAL OPTIONS WHEN STARTING AN ORGANIC APPLE ORCHARD

Authors:   M.E. Garcia, R. Moran, L.P. Berkett, T. Bradshaw, S. Kingsley-Richards, B. Parsons
Keywords:   apple, organic, top-grafting, 'Ginger Gold', 'Honeycrisp', 'Liberty', 'Macoun', 'Zestar!', economics
Abstract:
Disease susceptibility significantly influences organic apple (Malus ×domestica) production in the eastern United States because of weather conditions during the growing season. The northeastern USA has seen a shift away from ‘McIntosh’, the historically predominant cultivar which is very susceptible to apple scab (Venturia inaequalis), to newer cultivars, due to consumer preference and a shift in market focus from wholesale to retail and niche markets. A multi-disciplinary, multi-state, long-term research project OrganicA Project (http://www.uvm.edu/~organica/) was initiated in 2006 at the University of Vermont (UVM). One objective of this ongoing project was to incorporate and evaluate “new” apple cultivars and research-generated knowledge of apple ecosystem dynamics into organic production systems to determine their sustainability and profitability. We examined two major production systems growers could use in changing cultivars: top-grafting (an 18 year-old orchard was top-grafted to ‘Ginger Gold’, ‘Honeycrisp’, ‘Liberty’, ‘Macoun’ and ‘Zestar!’) and establishing a new orchard by planting new trees of the same cultivars used in the top-grafted orchard. The information presented here represents a comparison of alternative horticultural methods, techniques and costs associated with these two systems during the establishment years.
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