SUMMARY OF EXPERIMENTS CURRENTLY BEING CONDUCTED AT THE NW MICHIGAN HORTICULTURAL RESEARCH STATION
1. Red Tart Cherry Cultivar Trials. These plantings are under the direction of Dr. Amy Iezzoni, Dept. of Horticulture, MSU. The tart cherry trials include both red and clear juice types. Plantings include both promising European cultivars and advanced selections from Dr. Iezzoni's tart cherry breeding program. Many possible characteristics can be incorporated into newly developed cultivars including leaf spot and brown rot resistance, desirable pit shape and size, increased, high sugar content, and other desirable traits.
2. Sweet Cherry Variety Trials include over 279 varieties and advanced selections (305 cultivar/rootstock combinations) from North America and Europe for evaluation by Jim Nugent and Greg Lang. More sweet cherries are being planted each year. Trials include several selections that are self-fruitful types, a trait only recently available in commercially acceptable varieties. Recent introductions and advanced selections are under evaluation from sweet cherry breeding programs in New York (Cornell Univ.), Ontario, British Columbia and Washington (WSU).
3. Rootstocks for Red Tart and Sweet Cherries. The original NC-140 cherry rootstock trial was removed after ten years of evaluation from 1986-1996. A new planting was placed back on this site in 1998. In the new planting, sweet cherries are being grown and evaluated on 20 rootstocks, with 12 rootstocks under evaluation with Montmorency tart cherries. These plantings were established by Dr. Ron Perry and are now under the direction of Dr. Greg Lang, Dept. of Horticulture, MSU.
4. Cherry Insect Studies (Entomology plots). This work is under the direction of Drs. Mark Whalon, Larry Gut and John Wise, Dept of Entomology, MSU. It involves control studies for major cherry insect pests, including possible biological control methods. General insecticides have not been applied in this block since 1982 to build populations of various cherry insects. During the past twenty-three seasons, Eastern cherry fruit fly has been very active, providing some of the earliest emergence for this pest in Michigan. During 1998 and 1999, a project examining cherry fruit fly control utilizing the insect growth regulator SpintorTM was conducted. Currently trials are being conducted to study plum curculio using newly developed trapping technologies in sweet cherry and tart cherry to better understand this pest's biology and improve monitoring tactics. Cherry fruit fly trapping and management alternatives are also under evaluation. Trials for control of two-spotted spider mite have been added to this work since 2000.
5. Cherry Pathology Studies are under the direction of George Sundin, Dept. of Plant Pathology, MSU. Controls for such diseases as bacterial canker, cherry leaf spot, brown rot, and powdery mildew are being studied. During the past twenty-one seasons, spray programs on both tart and sweet cherries consisting of both commercial and experimental fungicides have been evaluated. With the loss of many fungicides, the importance of this work continues to increase.
6. Cultivar Trials on Plums and Prunes. This work is currently under the direction of Mira Danilovich, District Horticultural Agent. Many cultivars and selections are being examined which might be applicable to Michigan. In general, two trees of each cultivar have been planted to get a "first look" at many different fruiting types. Since there is an immediate need by the Michigan plum industry for improved cultivars, some 210 different types have already been evaluated. New selections continue to be added to this trial. Varieties showing promising horticultural characteristics are also evaluated for their processing characteristics. A few new selections, which show some promise as a replacement for Stanley plum, have been budded and were planted in our trials in 1986. These selections are generally freestone with a round pit without a fragile tip. Limited plantings of the most promising selections are now being made at grower locations. Fruit is evaluated for pitting and canning, baby food, juice and fresh market potential. Nearly all of the oldest cultivars were removed and the most promising new varieties have been re-established on this site.
7. Apple and Pear Cultivars. Some 110 apple cultivars have been established to tudy new introductions which might be profitably grown in Michigan. Additional cultivars are added each year. Several pear variety/rootstock combinations are also being evaluated. In 1996, several promising fireblight resistant pears were added to the collection for evaluation. Many of the older trees in this block were removed to make room to plant additional variety plantings in the future.
8. NC-140 Apple Rootstock Trial - Established in 1999 by Dr. Ron Perry. This trial will evaluate 12 rootstocks grown with McIntosh on top. Honeycrisp and Gala are planted as guard trees on various stocks and will also be evaluated.
Additional trials were planted in 2002, 2003 and 2004 to evaluate the performance of newly released Cornell-Geneva (CG) Elite rootstocks.
9. International Tart Cherry Orchard. This orchard has been established by Dr. Amy Iezzoni and contains tart cherry selections from several European countries. The most promising selections from the MSU tart cherry breeding program have also been planted in this orchard. This trial will continue to expand each year as new selections are developed and additional varieties are shipped in from other countries. The oldest trees were removed in 1998 to make way for new selections to be planted in the future.
10. Spray Deposition. Dr. Gary VanEe and Richard Ledebuhr, Dept of Ag. Engineering, MSU, have provided the leadership for an evaluation of methods for quantitative and qualitative analysis of spray deposition. Their work also involves the development and improvement of orchard and vineyard spraying equipment. This work is designed to achieve a reduction in the amount of pesticides necessary to manage insects and diseases, plus develop management strategies to address concerns with spray drift. The latest project developed equipment to apply trunk sprays to help control borers.
11. Soft Fruit Problem in Tart Cherries. Research into the causes of the soft fruit problem in tart cherries is being conducted at MSU, the NW Station and with several grower cooperators in Northwest and West Central Michigan. The MSU team currently investigating this critical issue includes Drs. Jim Flore, Steve VanNocker, Wayne Loescher, Greg Lang and Eric Hanson from the Dept of Horticulture, and Jim Nugent. Dr. Dan Guyer, Dept of Ag Engineering, is a cooperator. This issue has become very important to the cherry industry since the loss of Alar in the late 1980's. Research is focused on the evaluation of fruit components to determine what internal factors are predisposing fruit to character breakdown during harvest and assessing production practices and growth regulators for their effects on fruit firmness.
12. Windbreaks. In an effort to avoid some of the problems associated with conventional Poplar windbreaks, windbreaks of Grey Alder were established in 1988 and a planting of Asiatic Larch was established in 1992.
13. Orchard Floor Management/Ground Water Study. This study has recently been completed. This project compared 14 orchard floor management systems, including living ground covers, mulches, compost and herbicide controls. The objective is to find alternative management strategies that produce quality fruit with lower herbicide and fertilizer inputs to assure that groundwater does not become contaminated. Targeted for assessment and potential reduction are nitrogen and simazine due to their potential for leaching. This project is mostly funded through MDA's Groundwater Stewardship Program with additional funding from USDA's North Central Regional IPM Research Grant Program. Dr. Charlie Edson was the program leader. Cooperators include several faculty, station staff, a grower and a consultant.
14. Wine Grape Research. A planting of wine grapes was established during 1995 and 96 to evaluate new selections under northwest Michigan conditions. Various growing systems and low chemical input varieties will also be evaluated. These projects are under the direction of Dr. Tom Zabadal with assistance from Dr. Duke Elsner, MSU-E. In 1998 Dr. Tom Zabadal, Coordinator, SW Michigan Research and Extension Center, established an additional planting to study growth, production and hardiness of the vines at various spacings, as well as vines placed in grow tubes.
15. Nut Planting. Several selections of chestnuts and hazelnuts have been established under the direction of Dr. Dennis Fulbright, Dept of Botany and Plant Pathology, MSU, with the help of the Northern Nut Growers Association.
16. Montmorency/Ujfehertoi furtos (Balaton) Spacing Trial is under the direction of Drs. Jim Flore and Amy Iezzoni. Planted in 1994, this trial will compare several planting distances of Montmorency, to a newly introduced Hungarian variety of tart cherry, Balaton. This will help to determine optimum spacing and management to produce the best quality and high yields. A companion planting was planted in 1995 to evaluate Balaton on three different rootstocks.
17. Environmental Monitoring Project - An electronic environmental monitoring instrument has been installed at the NWMHRS. This equipment is hard wired into two computers - one providing continual data display in the station's lobby and a second that accumulates information for transmission to MSU and growers. This second computer also receives from MSU and automatically sends a 60-hour daily weather forecast to growers on a 7 day/week schedule. This data is now linked into a new regional monitoring network to supply localized real-time information to Michigan growers. Growers access information via internet, fax or phone to a computer using a voice generator. This project is under the direction of Dr. Jeff Andresen, MSU Agricultural Meteorologist, with cooperation developing the regional network provided by this office.
18. Tart Cherry IPM Planting - A new cherry IPM project was initiated in 1996. The planting consists of both Montmorency and Balaton planted in 9 blocks of approximately 0.75 acres each. During the initial years, the study focused on orchard floor management and nematodes. This site is now the primary site for studying issues related to tart cherry IPM. Primary projects currently being conducted in this planting include: organic cherry production, perma-culture production, and innovative cherry fruit fly and plum curculio management studies. This project was under the primary leadership of Dr. Dave Epstein, Office of IPM, MSU; Drs. Mark Whalon, George Bird, Dept of Entomology, MSU and Jim Nugent. Primary financial support has come from USDA's SARE program and the Michigan Cherry Committee. Although no active research is currently taking place in this plot, all treatments have been left intact.
19. Training Systems for Dwarf Sweet Cherries for Processing & Fresh - This project investigates productivity and training strategies for growing processing and fresh sweet cherries on dwarfing vs standard rootstocks. The processing trial, planted at the NWMHRS, consists of the rootstocks Gisela 5 & 6, mahaleb, mazzard, MXM2 and two Hungarian mahaleb clones, i.e., CT500 and CT2753. Varieties are Gold, Emperor Francis, Napoleon and Ranier. The fresh portion of the trial consists of five varieties and four rootstocks with three training systems. The fresh trial is planted on a grower site in NW Michigan and at the SW Michigan Research and Extension Center. The project is led by Bill Shane, Jim Nugent and Greg Lang, with cooperation from Wally Heuser.
20. Balaton and Danube on Dwarf Rootstocks - Planting was established in 2001 to evaluate the potential of growing Balaton and Danube on smaller trees for the fresh market. Developing tree training methods for this combination will be one of the objectives of this study. Cooperators include Greg Lang, Amy Iezzoni and Jim Nugent.
21. Armillaria Root Rot is a serious problem, which attacks the roots in stone fruits resulting in tree death. There is no known prevention or cure for cherries. A planting has been established to evaluate the susceptibility of a wide range of plant material to the specie of Armillaria present in NW Michigan cherry orchards. The objective is to find Armillaria resistant rootstock candidates. The planting includes over 50 different Prunus species or Prunus crosses. The planting is located on leased property near the NWMHRS. It was established in 2001, with additional plant material added in 2002 and 2003. More will be added in the future. The project is under the leadership of Drs. George Sundin and Greg Lang, with assistance from Jim Nugent.
22. Many Other Experiments Involving Fruit Trees are being conducted both on and off the Station in nearby orchards. Fruit maturity, herbicide trials, spray deposition, fruit thinning and cherry cracking are examples of some of these projects. These special off-station projects are under the direction of various individuals from the Departments of Agricultural Engineering, Horticulture, and Entomology, as well as Station personnel. Special projects will continue in off-site orchards as needed.
23. Horned-Face Bee - A new study was initiated in 2005 that investigates the effectiveness of the pollinators Osmia cornifrons (horn-faced bee (HFB)). HFB were donated to the station in early spring, and multiple nesting colonies were placed throughout different cherry blocks. This bee is native to Japan and its behavior closely resembles related species, such as the blue orchard bee or 'mason bee'. These bee species have been used extensively in orchards in the western U.S. due to their exceptional pollination traits. They are extremely efficient pollinators, and they prefer to forage on fruit tree flowers. Osmia species also fly under cool and cloudy weather, which makes them a desirable pollinator under cool spring conditions. Because fruit growers can mimic Osmia nesting sites and because these insects are excellent pollinators, we are very interested in investigating their use in northwest Michigan orchards. This project is under the direction of Dr. Nikki Rothwell, Erin Taylor, and Alison Heins.
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Last Revised: 11-7-05