Great Lakes Expo addresses herbicide issues
December 7–10 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market Expo, the largest horticulture show in the eastern United States, will be held at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on December 7-10.
The fruit program starts with discussion of a recently hot issue—damage to fruit trees attributed to the herbicide glyphosate. Dr. Hannah Mathers, an Ohio State University horticulturist who has researched the problem, will kick off the three-speaker session that looks at herbicide damage problems and how to avoid them.
On other programs, a similar theme reappears. Dr. Ian Merwin, a horticulturist from Cornell University in New York State, is a featured speaker during three programs. One of them is a roundtable discussion with Michigan growers and Michigan State University horticulturists on a wide range of production topics.
Merwin has spent 18 years researching orchard floor management systems as they affect soil fertility and fruit yields and quality. He has developed his vision of a model orchard that is based on apple-replant-disease–resistant rootstocks (no fumigation), fescue grass alleys, drip irrigation, and relatively narrow weedfree strips maintained by early season use of postemergent herbicides. He has been a strong advocate of use of glyphosate for early weed control and of letting vegetation grow later in the season when competition is no longer an issue.
At the same time, he has investigated nonherbicidal regimens for organic fruit production, and will speak on that subject during the organic production portion of the Expo fruit program. He has spent a decade comparing organic and integrated fruit production systems.
He is concerned that extensive use of glyphosate in field crops will lead to resistant weeds that will make orchard weed control difficult. “I am looking at combinations of postemergence herbicides with biomass mulches and light cultivation using machinery like the Wonder Weeder to reduce the frequency of herbicide applications and provide more broad-spectrum suppression that should help delay weed control failures due to herbicide-resistant weed genotypes,” he told Good Fruit Grower.
In describing his 20 years working at Cornell, Merwin said, “I work on diverse fruit crops including tree fruits, wine grapes, and novel crops such as pawpaws and antique apple varieties. Some of my projects have continued for more than a decade, investigating long-term impacts and aspects of perennial crop systems. Current research areas include biological control of soilborne diseases of apples, nutrient dynamics in orchards under various soil management systems, cultural practices to improve wine grape quality, tree root demography, and evaluation of traditional American and European apple varieties for cider fermentation.”
Two years ago, he published a paper on antique (heirloom) apple varieties. In farmers’ markets in the East, they fetch prices comparable to Honeycrisp and fill a lucrative market niche. He’ll speak about this, too.
This year marks the 140th anniversary of the Michigan State Horticultural Society. A special presentation Tuesday morning, December 7, will be made by Paul Larsen, who was an Extension horticulturist at Michigan State University from 1955 to 1968. He will review “a century of progress in the Michigan fruit industry.” Larsen became director of the Tree Fruit Experiment Station in Wenatchee, Washington, in 1968, and later, vice president for Extension at Utah State University until his retirement in 1992.
At the Expo, separate half-day programs are devoted to apples, sweet cherries, tart cherries, wine grapes, apple cider making, and berries.
Last year, the show attracted nearly 400 exhibitors and 3,900 visitors from 43 states and nine Canadian provinces. More than four acres of space is devoted to exhibitors showing their machines, products, and services.
For more details about the Expo program, go to the Web site www.glexpo.com. •