The MSU Clarksville Research Center will host its annual Cherry Variety and High-Tech Research Showcase July 9. The event features MSU AgBioResearch scientists and MSU Extension specialists discussing fruit topics such as new varieties, market opportunities, training and hedgerow systems, and various ways to use technology in orchard management.
Phil Schwallier, MSU Extension fruit educator, will lead a mini-workshop on apple thinning in the morning. Thinning is a process that helps to improve the quality of the fruit by reducing the crop load.
"Growers will learn about various apple thinning strategies as well as tree hedging," Schwallier says.
Educational sessions will begin at 1 p.m.
Jim Flore, MSU AgBioResearch scientist and professor of horticulture, will lead a session on bloom delay using solid set canopy delivery spray systems. They're generally used to spread pesticide treatments effectively and evenly on trees. Flore has conducted research that shows that using these systems to spray water on the buds can delay bloom 10 to 14 days on average.
"Growers can also use technology out in the orchards to collect data on temperature and humidity, and then the systems can be programmed to mist the cherries at the most effective times," said Flore, adding that this type of management could be especially valuable for high-density apple and cherry varieties.
In light of last year's devastating late frost, techniques like this could be invaluable for crop protection in the future.
"If we had had systems like this last year, we might have been able to save some of the lost crop," he says. "It's important for growers who have the solid set systems to know that these options are available to them at little extra cost."
Nikki Rothwell, center coordinator for the MSU Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center in Traverse City, will bring early cherry varieties to the showcase. She will be joined by MSU professor of horticulture Greg Lang and fruit growers Wallace Heuser and Wanda Heuser Gale.