Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Enrollment

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Precision Irrigation: Where to Start?

Mike Basedow, Tree Fruit Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

July 6, 2018

As we enter the warm summer months, you might consider trialing the precision irrigation model on your farm to improve tree growth in your new plantings and maximize fruit size in your mature blocks.

Irrigation can be helpful in maximizing tree growth in the first few years of orchard establishment (Dominguez and Robinson, 2015). This is particularly important for trees planted with multiple large feathers in tall spindle plantings, as well-branched trees will have a disproportionally large leaf area that may not be adequately supplied with water by the trees' damaged roots. Drip irrigation ensures the leaders can continue to grow to their full potential, leading to higher yields within the first five years of establishment in irrigated trees.

Irrigation can also increase fruit size in mature plantings (Lordan et al, 2016). While fruit thinning is one area where growers can affect fruit size, providing sufficient water is also critical. Water stress, even temporarily, reduces the fruit growth rate.  Once the growth rate slows, this loss in size may be difficult to overcome, even when soil moisture levels return to normal during subsequent rain events.

The amount of water apple trees need on any given day heavily depends on a number of weather variables. These include the temperature, how windy and sunny it is, and the amount of rainfall the site has recently received. These factors are constantly monitored by NEWA stations, and are summarized under the Precision Irrigation Management tool, available at http://newa.cornell.edu under the "Crop Management" tab.  To use the tool, select your farm's weather station (or whichever NEWA station you use for your weather data) from the menu on the left hand side of the screen.  Then, enter your green tip date, the tree spacing, and the age of the block you would like to irrigate.


This will then bring up a table, showing the current day in green, the previous week in blue, and the following predicted week in tan. From here, you will have the option to adjust the numbers under the rainfall and irrigation columns. The rainfall column is prepopulated with NEWA data, but you can change it if you know your site received an amount differing from what NEWA recorded. You can also adjust the irrigation by gallons per acre (GPA). Using this column and the one on the far right, the Cumulative Water Balance column, is how you can determine how much water you need to irrigate your blocks. Looking at the Cumulative Water Balance Column, a positive number or a "0" indicates the field is saturated. We generally begin applying irrigation when the field is at 80% water holding capacity, which for clay loam soils often begins at about -20,000 gallons per acre. 

The other number you will want to determine is your application rate to know how many hours it will take for your system to put out a given GPA.  To determine this, you will need to know your emitters' flow rate in gallons per hour, and the number of emitters you have per acre.  Multiplying the number of emitters per acre by the flow rate will give you your application rate, which will be in gallons per hour per acre.  So, if you want to apply 5000 GPA, and your application rate is 622 Gallons per hour per acre, you can divide 5000 by 622, and determine you will need to irrigate for eight hours. 

There are a few additional recommendations for practicing precision irrigation. During the early season, apply the necessary irrigation once per week. Then in mid-June switch to two applications per week in clay or loamy soils, and every other day in sandy soils. When large rain events are predicted, do not irrigate the day before or three days after the rain event, as the upper layer of soil is likely to still be saturated.

So, if you would like to manage fruit size more precisely and maximize your tree growth in your new plantings, consider trialing the model on some of your irrigated blocks this season.  

Sources

Dominguez, L.I. and T. Robinson. 2015. Strategies to improve early growth and yield of tall spindle apple plantings. NYFQ. 23(2):5-10.

Lordan, J., T. Robinson, P. Francescatto, G. Reig, A. Wallis, and A. Lakso. 2016. Precision management: How and why we should irrigate. NYFQ. 24(1):15-19.



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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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