The Right Stuff

The Right Stuff

If you think that there are no options available to you for posts or fencing in order to have your orchard certified as organic, you are in for a pleasant surprise. There are actually quite a few practices you can implement, and they are neither expensive nor complicated.

For example, posts manufactured from plastic or cast iron are allowed. Chemicals used commonly to treat wood posts might leach into the soil, so wood posts used in the orchard rows may not be treated. However, there is a simple solution for this dilemma: Use rot-resistant wood for trellis posts. The type of wood used varies from region to region, depending on the rot-resistant varieties available in that particular area (such as black locust in the Midwest, or cedar in the West).

Go With The Flow

In the event that rot-resistant wood is not readily available in your region, a little bit of flexibility goes a long way. One example of a successful open-minded attitude in this situation is presented in an article that ran in the January 2006 issue of “Just Picked,” the quarterly newsletter of the Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Growers Network (MOTFGN). Tree fruit growers Maury Wills of Wills Family Orchard in Iowa and Jim Koan of Al-Mar Orchard in Michigan were featured in the story,  which talks about how, while Wills did not have access to any types of wood ideal for decay resistance, he did have a plentiful supply of white oak.

Getting An Education

Deirdre Birmingham, who is hoping to have her first crop of cider apples certified organic in 2009, established the Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Growers Network with 18 other growers four years ago because of the confusion that often accompanies organic practices. They felt that Midwest fruit tree growers were missing a resource for information on producing organic tree fruit. Their goal is to provide this information through the organization’s Web site, which can be accessed at www.mosesorganic.org/treefruit/intro.htm. The Web site offers growers many useful features including:

- An organic resource directory with a section that lists organic certifiers. 
- Information that novice organic growers may not consider initially. For example, in an organic orchard, as in a conventional orchard, it is crucial to prune fruit in order to maximize light penetration and enhance air drainage.
- Tips for effective disease resistance strategies. When choosing varieties to grow in an organic orchard, there is a general consensus among researchers in the organic field that disease resistance is key, since the use of chemicals to ward off diseases and pests is not permitted. Though no one variety is resistant to every disease, you can pick and choose according to which diseases threaten fruit tree crops in your region.
- Information on research projects that may be helpful to organic tree fruit producers.

According to Koan, using untreated wood that may not necessarily be rot-resistant can actually be viewed as advantageous because more rapid decaying of the posts will encourage growers to renovate their orchards with new and improved varieties. “You have made your money, new varieties and technology will motivate you to replant, and the decaying support structure will force you to do so. That is why I like this system!” he is quoted as saying.

Furthermore, the entire undertaking left a relatively small dent in Wills’ wallet. Since he chopped the wood and shaved the posts himself, he did not need to pay anyone for labor. Wills’ only substantial cost was the $80 he spent on high tensile wire, which he bought from the local farm supply store.   

Fenced In

The rules are usually more lenient for deer fences. Because these fences are usually placed around the perimeter of the orchard, the wood used to build them can often be treated. It is important to note, though, that you cannot use the same wood within the tree row as a trellis.
Depending on its proximity to the trees, the vegetation growing under electric fences must be maintained by means other than synthetic herbicides. The use of herbicides may be permitted if the fence is located a safe distance from the orchard being certified, but the distance must be approved by an organic certifier. “Growers should always speak to their certification agency. That is where I obtained my information,” Deirdre Birmingham, coordinator for the Network, says.

To simplify the idea of what an organic orchard should represent, Birmingham suggests approaching it as an integrated system. “You need to keep in mind that in an organic orchard, everything interrelates. What you do to one part of the orchard affects the other parts,” she says.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Biocontrols 2015 Conference
CitrusGrowers Go In-Depth At Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow
March 9, 2015
The first-of-its-kind event brought growers, researchers, regulators, and suppliers together for a two-day discussion on the latest biocontrols tools and technologies. Read More
Crop ProtectionAt Paramount Farming, Mating Disruption Pays Off
February 10, 2015
To say Brad Higbee is an expert in mating disruption, the use of pheromones to confuse target pests and reduce Read More
Crop ProtectionGrower Experienced In Biocontrols Says: Be Patient
February 4, 2015
The use of biocontrols in all aspects of agriculture is becoming more widespread. But incorporating biocontrols in a vegetable farming Read More
HarvestingOptimize Your Asparagus Harvest
March 30, 2015
It is an exciting time of the year when asparagus spears start poking their heads out of the ground. Careful Read More
Apples & PearsPink Lady Apple Production Continues To Grow
March 30, 2015
Total production is up nearly 50% over 2009, and is expected to increase 33% in the next three years. Read More
Food SafetyHow To Manage Food Safety Risks
March 30, 2015
You need to understand produce safety issues and what they mean to your farm. Read More
Laboratory beakers
CitrusGrowing Demand For Magnesium Nitrate Spurs TradeMark Nitrogen To Double Output
March 30, 2015
Via enhancements made to its manufacturing plant, Florida company is able to provide more of its product to various fertilizer distributors and retailers throughout the country. Read More
Apples & PearsHow Will We Sell All These Apples? [Opinion]
March 30, 2015
Apple production is reaching heights that would have been unthinkable two or three decades ago. That's great news for growers — if we can sell them all profitably, Read More
blue orchard bee
Integrated Pest ManagementBlue Orchard Bee Shows Promise As An Alternative Pollinator In Almonds
March 30, 2015
The native bee Osmia lignaria could soon be a valuable piece of the pollinator mix, especially for smaller almond growers. Read More
Richard Jones
Farm ManagementDon’t Burn Out This Spring
March 30, 2015
Finding ways to limit stress will benefit both you and your business. Read More
Apples & PearsSounding Off On GMOs: The Arctic Apple Decision
March 27, 2015
Industry leaders share their feelings on the recently approved genetically modified apples. Read More
BerriesBuilding A Better Black Raspberry
March 27, 2015
Studies focusing on consumer preference, aphid resistance, heat tolerance, and genetics aim to capitalize on an expanding market. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateMore California Citrus Placed Under Psyllid Quarantine
March 27, 2015
Asian citrus psyllid is found in Madera County – the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. Read More
The Latest
HarvestingOptimize Your Asparagus Harvest
March 30, 2015
It is an exciting time of the year when asparagus spears start poking their heads out of the ground. Careful Read More
Apples & PearsPink Lady Apple Production Continues To Grow
March 30, 2015
Total production is up nearly 50% over 2009, and is expected to increase 33% in the next three years. Read More
Food SafetyHow To Manage Food Safety Risks
March 30, 2015
You need to understand produce safety issues and what they mean to your farm. Read More
Laboratory beakers
CitrusGrowing Demand For Magnesium Nitrate Spurs TradeMark Ni…
March 30, 2015
Via enhancements made to its manufacturing plant, Florida company is able to provide more of its product to various fertilizer distributors and retailers throughout the country. Read More
Apples & PearsHow Will We Sell All These Apples? [Opinion]
March 30, 2015
Apple production is reaching heights that would have been unthinkable two or three decades ago. That's great news for growers — if we can sell them all profitably, Read More
blue orchard bee
Integrated Pest ManagementBlue Orchard Bee Shows Promise As An Alternative Pollin…
March 30, 2015
The native bee Osmia lignaria could soon be a valuable piece of the pollinator mix, especially for smaller almond growers. Read More
Richard Jones
Farm ManagementDon’t Burn Out This Spring
March 30, 2015
Finding ways to limit stress will benefit both you and your business. Read More
Apples & PearsSounding Off On GMOs: The Arctic Apple Decision
March 27, 2015
Industry leaders share their feelings on the recently approved genetically modified apples. Read More
BerriesBuilding A Better Black Raspberry
March 27, 2015
Studies focusing on consumer preference, aphid resistance, heat tolerance, and genetics aim to capitalize on an expanding market. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateMore California Citrus Placed Under Psyllid Quarantine
March 27, 2015
Asian citrus psyllid is found in Madera County – the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. Read More
FruitsIncrease Your Knowledge By Using Tree Fruit Resources
March 27, 2015
Get educated with great resources in the tree fruit industry available at your fingertips. Read More
Apples & PearsMeet USApple’s Class of 2015 Young Apple Leaders
March 27, 2015
Young decision-makers see trip as an opportunity make sure the voice of the apple industry is heard by representatives. Read More
GrapesGlassy-Winged Sharpshooter Found In Marin County
March 26, 2015
This pest, known to spread Pierce’s Disease, could devastate California winegrapes. Read More
GrapesFirst Raisin Grape That Dries Naturally On Vine Develop…
March 26, 2015
The new Sunpreme variety eliminates the need for growers to cut into woody canes before harvest. Read More
Fresh From Florida Strawberry Parfait recipe
BerriesNew Partnership Sends Florida Strawberries To Puerto Ri…
March 26, 2015
Latest addition extends Sunshine State’s agricultural export reach in the Caribbean. Read More
drought management; irrigation; water management
FruitsHow To Become A Soil Sleuth
March 26, 2015
To correctly apply the proper nutrients at the right rates, you need to know where your fields are deficient and how to correctly diagnose a disorder. Read More
NutsWhy You Should Use Low-Rate Applications Of Potassium
March 26, 2015
These rates provide growers a low-cost method comparable to conventional applications. Read More
Cold ProtectionWind Machine, Electric Pruners Donated To MSU Research …
March 25, 2015
New equipment to help protect research blocks from frost damage and provide center with latest technology. Read More