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Biodynamic Apple Trees

Posted by dan_j SE MI 6a (My Page) on
Sat, Jun 16, 12 at 13:21

Hello,
There's a group here in SE Michigan that planted an apple orchard this spring and plan to grow the trees Biodynamically. They've planted 500 to 900 trees, depending on who you want to believe. Does anyone have experience with apples and BD? How many trees? Where? How successful were you?
I looked into BD back in the '80s, and couldn't get a straight answer on how to deal with scab, codling moth, oriental fruit moth, apple maggots and plum curculio. I would love to learn from your experience.
Best regards,
Dan


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Biodynamic Apple Trees

Dan, there are some successful biodynamic orchards in Europe, but they use the standard sulphur/copper/surround/virus/disruption routine that organic growers use for pests and diseases. I expect this Michigan group will be doing the same (and if they start with other ideas, nature will crash their party in a few years). My feeling is there are some really good ideas buried in the BD approach and I try to pull out as many of them as I can, but its hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Scott


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Happy Father's Day !!!

  • Posted by dan_j SE MI 6a (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 17, 12 at 7:45

Scott,
The group that I'm posting about is trying to reclaim a neglected city owned park (Palmer Park) in the City of Detroit. As part of their 25-Year Master Plan, they convinced the Parks & Rec Dept to allow them to plant these trees. Some of the neighbors are worred about rats, but I'd be more worried about poorly maintained trees. I guess that my greatest fear is that they're a bunch of old hippies (not that there's anything wrong with that, ~grin~) who are into this urban farming movement & mysticism, but don't have a clue about growing apples. I tried to draw them out on a local Detroit forum that they have posted on, but they didn't want to come out and play. That made me even more concerned. I was hoping that someone here might have some experience with apples and BD that would assure me that it could work. If the usual organic methods are an approved part of a BD program, then all I really would worry about is that they follow through with said program. I use a sulfur, L/S, surround and bag program with my trees, but I can't picture that working with 500-900 trees.

Does anyone out there have a link to the standards you have to meet to become a Demeter Certified orchard?

I would have to agree with you that there are some good ideas in BD. I like the low impact, feed the earth approach, but you won't catch me burying cow horns under the light of a full moon!

BR,
Dan

PS - I'm going to try to keep an eye on these folks and see how their program works. If there's any interest out there I will try to follow-up here over the next few years with my observations and links to any info they provide. As time allows!


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RE: Biodynamic Apple Trees

It's a wonderful way to reclaim a park while nobody's watching. Too bad they're not knowledgeable already. I'd think a massive monocrop such as this may complicate BD pest issues.

Seems a major biodynamic method of dormant pest control was to paint clay or mud (not spray) over the entire tree before leaf out.

I also believe there is some great info that can be taken from the BD methods.

They'd find plain old Organic more realistic.


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RE: Biodynamic Apple Trees

They aren't using any tax dollars to do this, are they? With dedication it is possible to make some money through direct marketing of humid region organically produced fruit if a grower is very smart and dedicated. Doing it in an even more demanding regimen when the product wouldn't command a better price than straight organic sounds foolish.

I first heard of BD methods in my earliest pot growing days of the late '60's. While growers were waiting for the right phase of the moon to get plants started, I did my timing based on weather and kicked their butts in terms of productivity. They had no edge on quality either. By the late '70's, around the end of that career for me, I never heard anyone talking about using those methods any more.

You can't determine efficacy of methods without controlled study and BD methods have been around long enough that a lot should be established by now. If it was more productive than straight organic production methods practitioners would be out competing regular organic producers in the marketplace, IMO,

Probably be more economically viable to try it with pears or even peaches.


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RE: Biodynamic Apple Trees

  • Posted by dan_j SE MI 6a (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 17, 12 at 14:37

"You can't determine efficacy of methods without controlled study and BD methods have been around long enough that a lot should be established by now. If it was more productive than straight organic production methods practitioners would be out competing regular organic producers in the marketplace, IMO,"

I couldn't agree more.

As far as tax dollars go, I think it's minimal. They're using an empty fenced off parking lot next to the Detroit Mounted Police stables (in the park) to store some still potted trees, and they used a Detroit Police truck to move the unplanted trees from the parking lot to the orchard. The area that I scouted was really sandy loam and the trees require water, which they get from the stables. I don't know who owns the tank truck. The plan calls for giving apples to the DMP to feed the horses. The group also uses manure from the stables, mixed with wood chips generated in the park, mixed with brewers yeast that's coming from a Detroit micro-brewery, as compost. It was placed in each hole along with the rootball. Most of this information was gleened from the police. I suspect that the brewery might be interested in some of those apples for cider. Look out Stumpy!!!

BR,
Dan


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RE: Biodynamic Apple Trees

  • Posted by myk1 5 IL (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 17, 12 at 14:50

That doesn't sound like enough use for 500 trees unless the DMP wants their horses to have diarrhea.


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RE: Biodynamic Apple Trees

I guess it's all worth it just for the recreation provided. An awful lot of the entertainment gardening has given me over the years has been in the form of anticipation and finally unmet expectations. If the people involved actually have any depth to their commitment they will learn quickly.


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RE: Biodynamic Apple Trees

Good luck... All I can say is I didn't spray my McIntosh and Cortland this year with anything...just Ma Nature to take care of my apples... Out of the 100's of fruit that the tree had set, I probably have 20 left (not exaggerating)...the rest had fallen on the ground around both trees (majority with 1 to 20 PC crescent egg laying scars). If one were to have 500 trees with this happen and not have someone go out and collect and dispose of all those fallen apples, bug pressure would soon escalate exponentially.

Some sort of spray program has to be part of an orchard. Even horses aren't going to eat these larvae infested apple drops, maybe pigs.


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RE: Biodynamic Apple Trees

Dan, I found the link to the standard, see below. Looks like sulphur and copper are allowed under limited usage patterns. They are mum on other things such as mating disruption but they seem to be allowed in Europe at least (I think each country has their own standards).

I hope someone sorts all this out and removes all the superstitious nonsense. The problem is you can't just view it as a big scientific experiment and test each thing and give an up-or-down on it, part of the whole strength of BD is how it makes you look at your trees not as a fruit factory, but as mystical many-armed creatures you are nurturing to life. From that perspective our innate nurturing instincts can kick in and make our trees happy producers.

Scott

Here is a link that might be useful: BD standards


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RE: Biodynamic Apple Trees

  • Posted by dan_j SE MI 6a (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 18, 12 at 7:56

"Appendix B: PROHIBITED/REGULATED MATERIALS
Basically we rely on OMRI/ the NOP National List but with the following notable exceptions:
 Plant hormones Prohibited‐ such as Gibberellic acid applied to manipulate size of table grapes
 Stylet oils Regulated‐ If product used is approved for use in NOP organic production, mineral oil
is allowed for perennial tree and vine crops only.
 Copper products Regulated‐ Limited to maximum 3# Cu/ac/year, and if possible, 1#/application
based on Demeter International Standards.
 Antibiotics Prohibited‐ such as Streptomycin and Tetracycline for fire blight control in apples
and pears."

This still leaves the apple grower with a LOT of tools. This is good news. I don't know why I'm so concerned with this this orchard, I have no skin in the game. I guess that above all, I really would like to see them succeed.

Thanks Scott, you made my day!

Best regards,
Dan


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RE: Biodynamic Apple Trees

Looks like Pyrethrum is allowed (natural), so that is good...as long as they used it often enough. I think it can be mixed with oil to make it last longer (Sesame?). Surround WP i'm sure is allowed.

I was reading mulch is not advised...saying it doesn't let the soil breath? Huh? Doesn't make any sense whatsoever. They don't get that it also helps conserve moisture and adds valuable nutrients as they break down.


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RE: Biodynamic Apple Trees

  • Posted by dan_j SE MI 6a (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 18, 12 at 11:18

Frank,

I haven't had time to read this through and didn't see the section you're refering to, but on page 21 they reccomend mulch for weed control. They even let you use plastic film mulch as a last resort! That floored me.

BR
Dan


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RE: Biodynamic Apple Trees

Have no idea if this is an "official" source on the matter, just something I came across on Google. Might just be an opinion of this one person...

"Mulching - do you recommened thick, continuous mulching in the garden?

Continuous heavy mulching in Biodynamic and organic gardening, is not recommended. Soil must be able to breathe for biological activity to take place. Heavy mulching inhibits soil biology and leads to poor structure. It also makes it impossible for 500 to reach the soil. Light mulching, however, is very useful during hot dry periods, or in the establishment of vines, berries and fruit trees. Applied to the soil after spraying the spring 500, the mulch is usually almost gone by the time the autumn 500 is applied. John Bradshaw"

http://www.bdgrowing.com/default.asp?action=page&catID=1&pageID=25#mulch

..>I like to think I put mulch on thick (several inches)...i guess it comes down to his definition of light vs heavy. Mulch can also be many different materials...


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