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The CCE Apple Decline Survey Has Been Extended Through the Summer of 2018

Dan Donahue, Tree Fruit Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

June 11, 2018

The Issue 

Cornell Extension Specialists are being asked with increasing frequency to investigate both chronic decline and rapid collapse of apple trees in young, high-density plantings in all regions of New York State.  Symptoms of chronic decline can include poor growth, off color foliage, and a generally unthrifty appearance that worsens over several years.  The death of an (apparently) previously healthy tree over the course of just a few weeks has been termed Rapid Apple Decline (RAD).  While the symptoms of chronic decline are subtler in some cases, RAD is eye-catching.  Afflicted trees appear to "burn up" mid-summer after having set and sized a normal crop load.  RAD may be a subset of the chronic decline condition or a completely different problem; causation is unknown at this time.

In some of these cases, tree death, initially thought to be either chronic or RAD, upon further testing can be ascribed to Fire Blight (Erwinia amylovora) or Crown/Root Rot (Phytophthora sp.).  In other cases, the causation is much less clear.  The decline and demise of apple trees in orchards up to the 8th leaf is currently a hotly debated topic among producers, researchers, extension specialists, industry consultants and nursery businesses in several states across the country, as well as parts of Canada.  A long list of potential causes of decline has been compiled by fruit workers throughout the eastern U.S., including winter injury, herbicide injury, ambrosia beetles and dogwood borer.

From recent studies, Cornell virologist Dr. Marc Fuchs and a team of Cornell Cooperative Extension Regional Specialist have discovered a resurgence in the incidence of latent viruses in recently planted apple orchards across New York State.  A latent virus is defined as a virus that doesn't normally produce visible symptoms in an infected tree.  Studies have indicated the potential for reduced tree growth and yield in some instances.  As reported at the 2018 CCE-ENYCHP Fruit & Vegetable Conference in February, latent viruses has been identified in over 50% of tested trees surveyed across the state in 2016 and 2017, with 12% of samples found to contain two or more species.  Virus species identified include Apple Chlorotic Leaf Spot Virus (ACLSV), Apple Stem Pitting Virus (ASPV), and Apple Stem Grooving Virus (ASGV).  ASPV has been the most commonly found latent virus to date.  While not a latent virus because it produces visible symptoms in the graft union and is directly implicated in tree death, Tomato Ringspot Virus (ToRSV) has also been observed, but at a comparatively low incidence.

The high incidence of latent viruses in young New York State apple orchards is troubling.  The interaction of virus infected budwood with newer rootstocks which are relatively unproven in commercial plantings is a cause of concern and the subject of ongoing research efforts.  The consequences of two or more viruses infecting a tree in a commercial orchard are not well defined.   Many acres of high-density orchards are being top-worked from less profitable varieties over to more popular choices.  First identified in Japan (Yanase, H. et. al. 1975) Top-Working Disease is a condition where the grafted scion suffers from gradual decline associated with the presence of latent virus in the grafting material.  Virus testing bud sticks or the host tree is not commonly practiced in Eastern New York orchards prior to top-working.  Roughly speaking, considering the high incidence of latent virus found in orchards of 10th leaf and younger, both host trees and bud sticks that fall in this age range should be considered suspect and be tested.

We cannot discount the possibility that the observed declines are due to interactions between multiple stressors, or that we are facing the possibility of a previously unrecognized problem.  Apple Luteovirus 1 (ALV1) has been found in three of four tested ENY orchards to date, with additional orchard survey testing currently underway.  A group of virologists including Dr. Ruhui Li of the USDA, Dr. Kari Peter of Penn State, and Dr. Ekaterina Nikolaeva of the Penn Dept. of Ag. discovered and described the new Luteovirus species in late 2016 (Lui et al. 2018).  Some species in the Luteovirus family are known plant pathogens.  The pathogenicity status of ALV1 as of the writing of this article has not been determined, research on this topic is currently underway in both Pennsylvania and New York.


The Apple Orchard Decline Survey

After numerous orchard visits by specialists in different states, a working group of regional apple professionals coordinated by Dr. Kari Peter of Penn State University has developed a comprehensive list of symptoms to identify declining orchards. From this list, extension professionals in Pennsylvania and New York developed an online survey of apple tree decline to facilitate consistency in the collection of orchard data, and the identification of commonalities.  Thirty-seven orchard surveys were completed in 2017, with more in progress.  The NYSDAM Apple Research and Development Program granted an extension to Dr. Tess Grasswitz (CCE-Lake Ontario Fruit Program) and I to continue survey data collection through the summer of 2018.  To date, the results are inconclusive and do not point to any specific causes.  Chlorotic foliage in declining trees has been identified as a common symptom.  More surveys (i.e. data points) are needed to reliably identify causal factors.

If you have apple blocks showing decline symptoms, your comprehensive and accurate completion of this online survey will be an essential first step in helping us identify possible causes and to search for solutions to the problem.  Please include data for all your declining blocks: the more data points we have, the more we will learn.  Please be assured that your specific farm information will be kept strictly confidential.  This statewide apple decline survey project has been funded by NYS apple producers under the auspices of the NYSDAM New York Apple Research & Development Program.  To complete the survey, please click here.  The survey may take a few moments to load.  If you would prefer to complete the survey through an in-person interview during a farm visit, please contact Dan Donahue at djd13@cornell.edu and arrange an appointment before the end of August.

 

References

Yanase, H., Sawamura, K., Mink, G.I. and Yamaguchi, A. (1975). VIRUSES CAUSING APPLE TOPWORKING DISEASE (TAKA TSUGI BYO) IN JAPAN. Acta Hortic. 44, 221-230 DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1975.44.35

Lui, Huawei, Wu, Liping, Nikolaeva, Ekaterina, Peter, Kari, Liu, Zongrang, Molov, Dimitre, Cao, Mengji, Li, Rui. 2018.  Virology Journal.  15:85


An example of chronic apple decline in a 7th leaf Zestar! orchard.

Photo Credit:  D.J. Donahue




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Upcoming Events

Farm Financial Management Tuesdays - Planning for a Change or Exiting Your Farm Business

November 30, 2021 : Assessing the Financial Ramifications of and Options for Significant Change to Your Farm Business

The inflationary economy is upon us! The huge influx of money into the US economy following the COVID-19 pandemic has manufactured high prices and in turn increased operating costs for farm business thus forcing many businesses into net operating loss situations. Other farms are facing high labor costs or chronic labor shortages.  Some farms have taken on debt loads that make these increased costs unaffordable.  Depending on the stage in the business lifecycle, it may make sense to change enterprises or exit the farming business entirely. 

Join CCE ENYCH Ag Business Educator, Elizabeth Higgins, and CAAHP Ag Business Educator, Dayton Maxwell, for a one-hour program to learn about the financial aspects of changing or exiting a farm business. 

December 7, 2021 : The Family and Emotional Component; Shifting Business Direction and Life After Farming

As farm business enterprises are changed or disbanded, the emotional stress can be tremendous, especially when individuals and family members maintain diminished assurance relative to future security. 

Join Gabriel Gurley and Brenda O'Brien of New York FarmNet for a one-hour program focused on successfully navigating the emotional turmoil of a family farm business transition.

December 14, 2021 : New Venture Creation; Shifting Business Direction and Life After Farming

Change creates opportunity and new opportunities are certain when farm businesses change or end. 

Join Gabriel Gurley of New York FarmNet for a one-hour overview of identifying ways and means to capitalize on new opportunities resulting from farm business transitions.

 

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Remote Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Course - Dec 2021

December 8 - December 9, 2021

A grower training course developed by the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) that meets the regulatory requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) for farms subject to the Produce Safety Rule. All farms are welcome to attend to learn about recommended food safety practices for growing, handling, and storing fresh produce. Course registration fee includes a course manual and certificate of course completion by the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO).

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Tax Management for Beginning and Small Farm Businesses

January 18, 2022

Tax Management for Beginning and Small Farm Businesses.

A one-night virtual meeting for beginning and part-time farmers that provides useful tax information enabling participants to be make better tax decisions for their business.   Federal and state income taxes will be covered. Tax regulations specific to NYS will be covered as well. 


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Announcements

2021 SWD Insecticide Quick Guide

Prepare your sprayer and make sure you have the insecticides of choice on hand. Click on the following link for the revised 2021 SWD Insecticide Quick Guide: https://rvpadmin.cce.cornell.edu/uploads/doc_981.pdf

Current recommendations are to use the most effective material you can early in the spray program - even though the population seems small. The strategy is to keep the population small for as long as possible as it's very hard to gain control after the numbers have ballooned.  

USDA Offers Disaster Assistance for Producers

USDA Offers Disaster Assistance for Producers Facing Inclement Weather

Severe weather events create significant challenges and often result in catastrophic loss for agricultural producers. Despite every attempt to mitigate risk, your operation may suffer losses. USDA offers several programs to help with recovery.

Risk Management
For producers who have risk protection through Federal Crop Insurance or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), we want to remind you to report crop damage to your crop insurance agent or the local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.

If you have crop insurance, contact your agency within 72 hours of discovering damage and be sure to follow up in writing within 15 days. If you have NAP coverage, file a Notice of Loss (also called Form CCC-576) within 15 days of loss becoming apparent, except for hand-harvested crops, which should be reported within 72 hours.

Disaster Assistance
USDA also offers disaster assistance programs, which is especially important to livestock, fruit and vegetable, specialty and perennial crop producers who have fewer risk management options.
First, the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) reimburses producers for a portion of the value of livestock, poultry and other animals that died as a result of a qualifying natural disaster event or for loss of grazing acres, feed and forage. And, the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) provides assistance to producers of grazed forage crop acres that have suffered crop loss due to a qualifying drought. Livestock producers suffering the impacts of drought can also request Emergency Haying and Grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres.

For LIP and ELAP, you will need to file a Notice of Loss for livestock and grazing or feed losses within 30 days and honeybee losses within 15 days. For TAP, you will need to file a program application within 90 days.

Documentation
It's critical to keep accurate records to document all losses following this devastating cold weather event. Livestock producers are advised to document beginning livestock numbers by taking time and date-stamped video or pictures prior to after the loss.

Other common documentation options include:
- Purchase records
- Production records
- Vaccination records
- Bank or other loan documents
- Third-party certification

Additional Resources
On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help you determine program or loan options.

While we never want to have to implement disaster programs, we are here to help. To file a Notice of Loss or to ask questions about available programs, contact the Rensselaer County USDA Service Center @ 518 271 1889 ext. 2. The office is open for business, however due to pandemic restrictions all in-person visits require an appointment.


Resources from CCE ENYCHP!

We are developing new ways to connect with the CCE ENYCHP team this year! We have a Youtube page located at this link. Check out videos on Table Grape Production, Pest Updates and the 20 Minute Ag Manager - in 4 Minutes series

We have a Facebook Page here as well as an Instagram page. We keep these places updated with current projects, events, and other interesting articles and deadlines.

There are also text alerts available. Fruit and vegetable farmers in 17 Eastern NY counties can now receive real time alerts on high risk disease and pest outbreaks texted directly to their cell phone. The Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture program, which is supported by local Cornell Cooperative Extension associations, will now offer text alerts to those that enroll in our program in 2019. 

The text alerts will be reserved for important crop alerts that could impact management decisions immediately. For instance, if there were an outbreak of Late Blight in the area, this would be transmitted to vegetable growers.

Farmers can choose the crop for which they wish to receive updates. Additionally they can request that Ag Business Alerts be sent to them. These alerts might include due dates for crop insurance deadlines, market opportunities etc.

If you have questions, please contact enychp@cornell.edu


Podcasts

FSMA Updates with Gretchen Wall

August 10, 2021
In this episode, Elisabeth Hodgdon discusses news and updates related to FSMA’s Produce Safety Rule with food safety specialist Gretchen Wall. They discuss inspection schedules for the 2021 season, On Farm Readiness Reviews, water testing, new resources available for growers, and more.

Resources:
Records Required by the FSMA Produce Safety Rule, by K. Woods, D. Stoeckel, B. Fick, G. Wall, and E.A. Bihn. This fact sheet includes an explanation of required records as well as printable record templates:
https://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/sites/producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/files/shared/documents/Records-Required-by-the-FSMA-PSR.pdf

Upcoming Remote, Online, and In-Person Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Courses:
https://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/training/grower-training-courses/upcoming-grower-trainings/

Interactive Google map of water testing labs, created by the Northeast Center to Advance Food Safety:
https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?amp%3Busp=sharing&mid=1C8KHM6jJszj9auYQttUbVtPKtb4eEBSJ&ll=41.22288057139939%2C-78.58548244999999&z=5\

Interested in joining the Produce Safety Alliance listserv? Sign up here to receive FSMA updates, notifications of educational opportunities and new resources, and more:
https://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/

Contact Information:
To schedule an On Farm Readiness Review or discuss your farm’s FSMA PSR coverage status, contact Steve Schirmer (315-487–0852 or steve.schirmer@agriculture.ny.gov), or Aaron Finley (518-474-5235 or aaron.finley@agriculture.ny.gov).

Episode speakers:
Elisabeth Hodgdon, ENYCHP vegetable specialist: 518-650-5323 or eh528@cornell.edu
Gretchen Wall, Produce Safety Alliance coordinator and Northeast Regional Extension Associate: 607-882-3087 or glw53@cornell.edu

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