Sustainable Apple Production via On-Farm Demonstration Trials in Ontario

                 Bernie Solymar, EarthTramper Consulting Inc.
    Canadian Horticultural Council National Apple IFP Project Coordinator

    OTTAWA, April 13 /CNW Telbec/ - In this southern Ontario region of
Norfolk County, apple growers produce fruit on over 2,400 acres, characterized
by fertile, sandy soils and a mild temperate climate. Pest pressures are high
due to frequent spring and early summer precipitation and high humidity in the
summer, as well as numerous woodlots and hedgerows providing alternate hosts
for codling moth, plum curculio, apple maggot, obliquebanded leafroller and
other direct apple pests.
    Since 1997, 5 apple growers (4 in Norfolk County and 1 in Brant County)
have been part of a unique on-farm demonstration trial to investigate the
affects of further reducing the environmental impact of pesticide use in their
orchards. Spear-headed by EarthTramper Consulting Inc., this project provided
the opportunity to displace organophosphate and carbamate insecticides with
lower risk alternatives, and then have the impact on pests and beneficial
organisms, level of fruit damage, spray program costs, and overall
environmental impacts assessed. Examples of products tested included Success
for leafrollers, Confirm for codling moth, Surround for apple maggot and plum
curculio, and Sovran for apple scab. Additionally the use of border sprays of
Imidan, versus full cover sprays, were used to manage codling moth and apple
maggot and an application of Superior oil was the only treatment for European
red mite in the "advanced Integrated Pest Management (IPM)" blocks.
    In the first four years of the trial (2001 - 2004) several, sometimes
surprising, trends appeared. On average, pest damage to fruit at harvest did
not increase, and at times was lower, indicating that the newer products were
as effective as the older chemistries. The expected surge in secondary pests
(e.g. tarnished plant bug), due to the use of more narrow-spectrum
chemistries, did not occur. Not only did numbers of beneficials increase,
dramatically in some cases, but the diversity of predatory insects and mites
also increased. Environmental impacts of the "advanced IPM" program,
calculated using Cornell University's Environmental Impact Quotient program,
indicated an overall reduction of 5% to 30% from conventional IPM programs.
And, perhaps most significantly for the participating growers, overall
pesticide costs did not increase.
    Starting in 2001 the project was rolled into the National Apple
Integrated Fruit Production (IFP) Program, administered by the Canadian
Horticultural Council (CHC). Funded through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's
CanAdapt program, the first phase of the IFP project (2001-2004) culminated in
the development and national distribution of the publication, Integrated Fruit
Production Guidelines for Apple Orchards in Canada, a grower workbook,
delivery of a national conference on IFP held in December 2002 in Montréal,
Québec, and a series of provincial workshops in 2003. In 2005, with a 5-year
grant from the federal Agricultural Policy Framework, the next phase of the
project was implemented - on-farm demonstration trials to investigate risk
reduction in pesticide programs and the use of IFP-friendly technologies in
orchard re-plant situations.
    With the new funding, the participating apple growers were able to
continue their "reduced risk IPM" demonstrations, already on-going for
8 seasons. A renewed emphasis on eliminating all organophosphate, carbamate
and pyrethroids use has been applied. The recent registrations of new
reduced-risk chemistries (e.g. several mating disruption products, Intrepid,
Success, several neonicotinoids and, most recently, Rimon) has allowed this
new phase of the program to progress rapidly. In 2007 we expect that the only
organophosphate use may be a couple of border sprays of Imidan. Sevin, applied
at reduced rates for chemical thinning, will be the only carbamate used. All
miticide and pyrethroid use will be eliminated, and the growers' apple scab
management program will consist of an integrated program using at least 4
chemical families.
    This ground-breaking project, entering its 11th season, is the longest
running commercial on-farm demonstration trial in Canada and has provided some
important benefits for the Ontario apple industry. Participating growers, and
the consultant, have had first-hand experience in testing new reduced risk
products and innovative technologies. Neighbouring growers, as well as those
from other apple growing areas in the province, have also been exposed to the
results of these trials through farm tours and presentations. Many have used
their new-found knowledge to upgrade their own IPM programs. The knowledge
gained from the trials has provided information towards publication of a
bi-annual IFP Spray Guidelines for Ontario Apples, which is distributed by the
Ontario Apple Growers to all members in the province. Finally, the adoption of
the reduced-risk IPM programs developed through this ongoing project, has
helped apple growers in continuing to meet increasingly stringent market
demands and opened new doors for marketing their apples domestically.

    The Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC) is a voluntary, not-for-profit,
national association representing the horticulture industry across the
country. The CHC is committed to advancing the growth and economic viability
of horticulture by encouraging cooperation and understanding to build national
consensus on key issues (including research and technology, trade and industry
standards, and financial and labour issues) in order to deliver unified and
clear representation to governments and other national and international
parties. Members of CHC include provincial and national horticultural
commodity organizations representing more than 20,000 producers in Canada, as
well as allied and service organizations, provincial governments and
individual producers. More information on the organization can be found on
their website at

For further information:

For further information: on the CHC: Anne Fowlie, Executive
Vice-President, (613) 226-4880, ext. 211; on the National Apple IFP Project:
Amy Argentino, Project Coordinator, (613) 226-4880, ext. 208

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