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January 2016 | Fruit Growers News

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January 2016 | Volume 55 | Issue 1 8 10 38 By Gary Pullano Associate Editor A multi-layered project to improve sustainability in fruit tree production through changes in rootstock use has received recognition from a national organization. Multi-State Research Project NC-140 forged a viable international partnership between universities and the tree fruit community. Together, they leveraged federal and state dollars to conduct innovative research on fruit tree rootstock, genetics, production, management and economics. Ron Perry, Michigan State University professor of horticulture and administrative adviser for the NC-140 project, said the north-central regional project was featured as a program at various experiment stations with federal government support to induce scientists from around the country to work together to develop research projects with a focus – this one narrowing in on rootstocks for tree fruit. In November, NC-140 received the 2015 Experiment Station Section Excellence in Multistate Research Award from the Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy. "NC-140 was recently awarded the top prize for the best regional project in the country out of 250 different regional projects," Perry said. "One of the reasons for that project was to establish ways to uniformly test and trial tree fruit rootstocks. "We really started in about the mid-1970s and it still goes on with members throughout the country, not just the north- central part of the country," he said. "It is because of NC-140, and also various Extension programs around the country, that we have been able to transition from dwarfing rootstocks – for example, in apples – from the old standard rootstocks, and that has had a huge financial impact across the country in tree fruit," Perry said. "We're doing the same thing in sweet cherries and now with new stone fruit rootstocks that have more resistance to various soil maladies," he said. "is particular project was just awarded a $15,000 award," he said. "Long-term, we will continue to push the envelope on new rootstocks that we can evaluate and put out there to make their systems more profitable and easier to grow," Perry said. "In North America, fruit tree growers can suffer great economic and yield losses due to freezing temperatures, diseases, soil conditions and rootstock incompatibility," Perry said. "As consumer demand increases, growers will need to use less land and energy while garnering higher fruit yields. In the last 30 years, fruit growers in North America have steadily transitioned to higher-density orchards, and consumers benefit from fruit being produced and harvested from smaller trees by finding fruit is of higher quality and available at lower prices." Report documents success Perry cited a report on the NC-140 project compiled for the International Fruit Tree Association (IFTA) by communications specialist Sara Delheimer. e report said North American fruit tree producers continue to suffer losses due to cold temperatures, diseases, poor soil conditions and gra incompatibility. With a highly competitive international market, consumer demand for high- quality fruit and strong pressure to reduce chemical use, fruit Severe winters damage Michigan fruit trees By Matt Milkovich Managing Editor Two severe winters in a row – 2013-14 and 2014-15 – tested the resilience of Michigan's tree fruit crops. e full extent of the long-term damage remains to be seen, but some lessons have been learned. ree Michigan State University (MSU) specialists shared those lessons during the recent Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO in Grand Rapids, Michigan. According to Bill Shane, Gregory Lang and Amy Irish-Brown, cold damage symptoms oen appear as branch-end dieback and twig bark discoloration. Damage also can be seen as browning of the cambium, phloem and the newest xylem tissue layers under the bark. e bark, cambium and phloem layers provide a protective shield around the inner core of the xylem (the heartwood). Cold damage reduces the ability of the outer layers to protect the heartwood from fungal and insect attack, and eventually the tree declines, according to the speakers. Young fruit trees are particularly susceptible to damage, as well as older trees and trees in poor health, said Lang, an MSU professor of horticulture. e 2014 winter was particularly hard on some mature apple orchards whose trunks and scaffolds were previously damaged by things like contact herbicides and mouse girdling, according to the speakers. Shane, a district fruit educator with MSU, said that once you've assessed the level of damage to your trees, you have to decide if the planting is worth keeping. It's a tough decision with a IMPROVED SUSTAINABILITY Award-winning NC-140 project raises stock of fruit tree industry Back-to-back See NC-140, page 6 See SEVERE, page 5 Researchers discuss a peach rootstock trial orchard as part of the NC-140 project. Photo: Ron Perry WATCH ONLINE NC-140 project at Prune mature trees to improve light distribution UM students seek growers' input on drone development TV show will explore CO2 scrubber manufacturing process

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