MN Apple Orchard Blog

In the orchard, “green tip” coincided with Tax Day this year (April 15). “Green tip” has nothing to do with money though. We keep track of the growth stages of our apple trees each year so we can plan our work and predict what might happen next. As the leaves begin to grow, it looks like this:
Several important things are indicated by the appearance of “green tip”. Most importantly, our trees survived another Minnesota winter! Now that things are growing we begin to keep track of the diseases and insects that can wreck things if left unmanaged. For an orchard our size, we invest quite heavily in technology that helps us know what insects and diseases are active or not. We keep a weather station in the orchard that tracks things like: temperature, leaf wetness, humidity, rainfall, etc.
Most importantly, the software that is part of the station includes a number of predictive models based on the weather we are actually experiencing. Research done primarily at our public land grant colleges over the years has correlated the relationships between insect and disease cycles and the weather. Warming temperatures and wetness, from rain or morning dews, as spring moves along greatly influences these things. Private entreprenuers have brought together this knowledge in products like our weather station.
So, one of the important things I do this time of the year is to ENTER APPLE TREE GREEN TIP DATE into my weather station data. This enables my weather station software to predict when insects and diseases are active specifically at Pleasant Valley Orchard. This information, ground-truthed with trapping and monitoring data, is shared with other orchards on line. Then all orchards can see what’s happening across the region as well as at their own location. The point of all of this is to give us the information to grow high quality apples, minimize use of any pesticides and choose the safest materials to apply in our orchard. We always get concerned over national press reports of apples or strawberries on a so called “deadly dozen” list of pesticide laden foods. That’s not how we do things at our orchard. We work hard to avoid pesticide use through knowing what’s out there and making good decisions. It all starts with “green tip”.
If you are interested in accessing our weather station on line, you can go to the “weatherunderground” site and type in the location, Shafer, MN. The current weather at Pleasant Valley Orchard will appear. Pretty cool, huh?