SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Lake Ontario fruit growers can purchase multi-peril hail insurance but when they lose a premium apple variety due to hail the indemnification from the crop insurance doesn’t fully compensate for the high value of new premium varieties. In addition marketing programs for new varieties depend on having a pre-planned supply volume which is lost if the orchard receives significant hail damage. This past season, frequent, more intense hailstorms, were experienced which had devastating economic effects for some growers. Therefore, increasing resiliency to extreme and unpredictable hailstorms will help to sustain current and future levels of fruit production and profit.
A group of progressive growers are now asking themselves if the use of hail nets for high value apple cultivars will be needed or not in the next 4-6 years. So far the Western NY fruit region has been lucky and produced high quality fruit without the use of netting. Today there is zero acreage of apple orchards netted with a permanent canopy system (netting of an entire orchard with special netting materials and a sturdy infrastructure) or with an over-the-row system (drape netting individual rows of apple trees). Netting is already used in certain areas of the world, especially in Europe (Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland, etc.), as protection from hail. It is also used in Mexico, Chile, New Zealand, Israel, and Australia. There are approximately 1,500 acres of Washington’s apple orchards netted today. Currently, the WA tree fruit research commission has an active research program on colored nets for replacement of cooling systems. In Ontario, Canada, there are currently two growers who are using nets for their high density orchards. This past season, two Champlain fruit growers installed a drape netting system (Figure 1) and had less hail damage.
If you are a grower who is considering netting as a hail control option or would like to know more about it, you should attend the 2018 NY Expo and tree fruit session on netting titled “Technologies to Reduce Production Risks Associated with Weather” on Thursday January 18, 2018, from 9am to 10:15am. A panel of horticulturists and netting suppliers will discuss the advantages and drawbacks of protective covers during the 2018 NY EXPO annual conference. Tom Auvil, invited speaker from North American Plants, Oregon, will participate during the netting discussion as well.
The 2018 Empire State Producers Expo is January 16-18 at the SRC Arena in Syracuse, NY. This annual show combines the major fruit, flower and vegetable associations of New York State in order to provide a comprehensive trade show and educational conference for New York producers, as well as neighboring states and Eastern Canada. In years past over 100 presentations were given by Cornell Cooperative Extension personnel and highly regarded speakers from across the country. Panel discussions feature some of the top industry experts and growers in New York. Between educational sessions, attendees can visit the trade show featuring over 150 commercial vendors and non-profit exhibitors.
Educational sessions topics include commodity specific programs in berries, cabbage, snap beans, peas, beets, carrots, fruiting vegetables (tomatoes, peppers), cut flowers, tree fruit, sweet corn, tomato, onion, Cole crops, root crops, vine crops, and emerging markets (hops, malting barley, mushrooms, hemp, hard cider); and multidisciplinary programs in precision irrigation, weed management, soil health, biopesticides, beginning farmer operations, marketing, greenhouse production, climate and forecast models, GMOs, and wildlife management. DEC pesticide recertification credits and Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) credits will be offered during the appropriate educational sessions.
–Cornell Cooperative Extension Cornell Vegetable Program
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