Backyard Tree Fruit ‘bounty’ program renewed

The Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers are continuing and have expanded their Backyard Fruit Tree Program which now includes Wasco County in addition to Hood River County.

The program promotes voluntary removal of unwanted fruit trees, as well as improved control of pests on remaining fruit trees. The short-term goal of the program is to eliminate the spread of pests from unmanaged trees to commercial orchards. The ultimate goal is to reduce the use of pesticides in local orchards.

The impact of unmanaged trees has become more significant in recent years because many orchardists are using pest management programs based on non-chemical controls such as pheromone confusion or “softer” pest management programs that use more selective, less-toxic pesticides. These programs pose lower risk to people and the environment, but they also increase the potential for pests that spread from unmanaged home fruit trees to cause damage in commercial orchards.

The Backyard Tree Program provides an incentive for those voluntarily removing unwanted home fruit trees, including pear, apple, crabapple and cherry trees. The Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers will pay $25 dollars for each apple, pear or cherry tree you remove. Tree removal is offered to seniors or those not physically able to remove trees themselves.

According to CGFG Executive Director Jean Godfrey, the response from the public has been very good, with a high percentage of home owners voluntarily removing unmanaged trees. To take advantage of this program, contact the Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers at 541-387-4769.

The high level of commitment required to grow commercially acceptable fruit may not be apparent to hobby or novice fruit growers. Home fruit growers may neglect to control insect pests and diseases on backyard trees with few apparent consequences. As noted above, not controlling pests on home fruit trees may have serious consequences, however, because they often serve as sources of pest infestation to commercial orchards.

Commercial fruit growers in the area are preparing to apply dormant season sprays targeting pests that overwinter on the tree with low-risk pesticides, such as sulfur and horticultural mineral oil. These early season sprays mark the beginning of a commitment to a season-long, integrated program aimed at preventing pest damage.

Dormant sprays are important for home fruit growers also, but the most important sprays for home apple, pear and cherry trees usually don’t start until mid- to late-May. These later sprays target codling moth, cherry fruit fly, spotted wing Drosophila and apple maggot, four pests that are of special concern to fruit growers in the local orchards. Not only do these pests cause direct damage to fruit, each is a quarantined pest in some export destinations.

Because of relatively high pest pressure in the area, non-chemical methods of controlling these pests on home fruit trees often do not provide adequate results.

Steve Castagnoli, horticulturist with Hood River County Extension Service, said many factors contribute to the effectiveness of pesticide applications including application timing. The life cycle of most fruit pests is dependent on weather conditions, which affect the time of pest emergence in the spring and development through the rest of the season.

For more information, contact the OSU Extension Service Office at 541-386-3343.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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