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Hort Symposium Web-based forecasting tool unveiled


Real-time weather data and scientific pest and disease information help improve orchard management. By Susan McIver


T


he Decision Aid System (DAS) is an important tool for improving orchard management, about 200 growers heard at the February B.C. Tree Fruit Horticultural Symposium in Kelowna.


Developed at Washington State University and now available in British Columbia, DAS is a web-based platform designed to transfer time-sensitive information on pest management to orchardists.


“It’s one of the most significant outreach products from WSU,” said Vince Jones in his keynote presentation. A professor of entomology, Jones is located at the WSU tree fruit research and extension centre in Wenatchee.


“All models are driven by environmental data,” he said.


Currently, there are


10 pest models available in the U.S. and six in Canada; 12 new insect models are being developed. DAS uses real-time, local weather data and scientific pest and disease management


At the symposium, Tesche and Molly Thurston of B.C. Tree Fruits introduced growers to BC DAS, which is free to growers thanks to the SIR program. SIR is covering the annual costs


of maintaining the system and of contributions toward its continuing development.


Vince Jones


information to help predict and manage pests and disease.


The real-time component of DAS helps growers make time-sensitive decisions around managements of pests and diseases, for example, spraying only when the pest is present which reduces costs.


DAS also provides information on pesticide effects on secondary pests and natural enemies.


The adaptation of DAS to B.C. conditions is being led by Melissa Tesche, acting general manager of the Okanagan-Kootenay Sterile Insect Release (SIR) program.


DAS is particularly important to B.C. growers because climate change is affecting the timing of when pests and diseases emerge and is allowing pests and diseases that could not previously survive in northern climates to become established here.


BC DAS provides forecasting from one to 42 days of insect and disease conditions, is integrated with the BC Tree Fruit Production Guide and is accessible via PC, tablet and smart phone.


To get started go to


http://ca.decisionaid.system. Help is available by watching the video tutorials or reading the online manual.


Information is also available at www.oksir.org/bcdas.


Golden Apple goes to Summerland grower By Susan McIver


S


teve Brown, of Happy Valley Harvest in Summerland, was presented with the Golden Apple Award at this year’s Tree Fruit Symposium held in Kelowna. Criteria for selecting the winner include grades, sizes and production level plus overall orchard management and what Charlotte Leaming who presented the award, called “the wow factor.” Brown was chosen partly for a Gala packout of 82 per cent extra fancy that also peaked on size 100 to 88 and a Pink Lady packout of 84 per cent extra fancy. Judges were also impressed by on-farm innovations such as the increase of trellis height that last year resulted in achieving 62 bins per acre.


The Golden Apple was the second major award Brown has won within a few months. In November, his Ambrosia apples were declared grand champion in the new varieties category by the Canadian Horticultural Council at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.


18 SUSAN MCIVER


Steve Brown impressed judges with the quality of his Gala and Pink Lady apples and his on-farm innovations.


British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2018


To enhance the characteristic bright red colour on one side of the apple, Brown prunes the trees about three weeks before harvest to ensure they get lots of sun.


To help prevent sun damage in the summer, he switches from drip to overhead irrigation. And to help the fruit maintain its crispy crunchy characteristic after picking, he sprays the trees with calcium.


Brown had no interest in farming until 1999 when he started helping his father who had purchased the 15-acre orchard as a retirement project. He then switched from studying business to horticulture and in 2003 he and his wife, Amanda, moved to Summerland.


Brown has made a video series available on YouTube which helps orchardists inform seasonal workers about the best way to pick apples. Workers with smartphones have easy access to the four-part series, Apple Picking Like A Pro.


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