Organic Food

Tree Fruit Management Review

Table of Contents

A Welcome... and Short Introduction

Welcome - Here at last is a comprehensive reference guide for organic tree fruit management. This guide will be used by the beginning and the experienced organic grower, as well as the conventional grower considering organic methods.

In this guide you will find numerous references and solutions to potential problems that may arise during to organic growing. You will find information on organic pest and disease management, soil fertility and nutrition in tree fruits and management tools available to the organic grower. More complete than most handbooks, this guide also includes information on Getting the Right Fruit Set, Planting and Re-planting and Harvest Guidelines. If you are a conventional farmer in transition to organic methods, or if you are considering organic growing as an option, you will find this guide essential.

The Certified Organic Associations of British Columbia (COABC) was formed in 1993 to administer the provincial organic accreditation program and to establish provincial organic production and processing standards. Organic Tree Fruit Management is part of a series of organic production manuals that are central to COABC's organic industry development activities.


In 1994 the newly-formed Certified Organic Associations of British Columbia identified the lack of reliable, substantiated and accessible information on organic crop production as an important obstacle to the growth of the organic agricultural industry. From this realization grew a plan to publish a number of organic crop management guides. The organic tree fruit management manual is the first in this series.

The majority of commercial tree fruit crops in British Columbia are grown in the semi-arid South Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys and the more humid North Okanagan in the interior of the Province. Some orchards can also be found in the humid coastal areas of the Fraser Valley and on Vancouver Island as well as in small pockets of suitable microclimates scattered throughout southern British Columbia.

While much of the information in this publication is based on experience gathered in the southern interior valleys of British Columbia, it is relevant to most fruit growing areas of the Pacific North-West and can be of value wherever apples, pears, peaches, apricots, cherries and nectarines are grown.

The Organic Tree Fruit Management Guide will assist the beginning and the experienced organic grower as well as the conventional grower considering organic methods. The conventional farmer in transition to organic methods or considering organic growing as an option will find numerous references to what potential problems may arise during and how to deal with these.

This publication covers organic pest and disease management, information on soil fertility and nutrition in tree fruits, management tools available to the organic grower, information on transition to organic methods, etc. Pruning and training systems are not covered in detail since pruning methods in organic tree fruits do not differ substantially from pruning methods in the conventional orchard. A list of recommended pruning publications can be found in the appendix.

Acknowledgements, by Hans Buchler

I would like to thank the author, Linda Edwards for sharing her professional expertise and many years of practical experience as an IPM crop consultant and an organic fruit grower. Her relentless dedication above and beyond the call of duty made this management guide a success.

Many thanks for their reviews and helpful comments go to the following people:

John and Irene Hutchinson, Brian Mennell, Robert Mennell, Fred Nelson and Wayne Still for their comments from the point of view of experienced organic fruit growers.

Dr. Art Bombke, University of British Columbia and Dr. Jim Rahe, Simon Fraser University.

Dr. Gene Hogue, Dr. Gary Judd, Dr. Harvey Quamme and Dr. Peter Sholberg, all from the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland, British Columbia.

This publication has been funded in part with a grant from the Government of British Columbia.

Hans Buchler, Project Coordinator

The Grower - Pestwise Fruit .

Review by Annette Verhagen, March 1999

The Certified Organic Associations of British Columbia (COABC) identified the need for growers to have access to reliable and substantiated information on organic crop production. The first book off the press is Organic Tree Fruit Management written by Linda Edwards.

This is the first complete organic guide for Canadian fruit growers. The project coordinator, Hans Buchler, says this book will assist existing organic growers as well as conventional growers considering organic methods. This manual is also valuable to growers who want to further develop Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs on their farm and use alternative methods for pest management.

The author, Linda Edwards has worked as an IPM consultant in conventional orchards for many years and she is a farmer of an organic fruit farm. He understands the difficulty and complexity of growing fruit, so she is practical in her approach to writing this book. Each section has extensive references to scientific journals, books and professional journals such as The Good Fruit Grower and The IPM Practitioner.

This book focuses on the Pacific North West of British Columbia (B.C.), but it has value for Ontario growers. Linda Edwards does not just focus on the arid South Okanagan and Similkameen Valley where most of the organic tree fruit production in B.C. resides. She includes problems and issues in other areas of B.C. such as the Fraser Valley, the lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island, where the high rainfall poses problems for disease management. The pest complex in B.C. is different than Ontario. Plum curculio, apple maggot and Oriental fruit moth are not pests in B.C. That would appear to make organic tree fruit production easier but I do not know about some of the pests that B.C growers deal with which Ontario does not have. For example, the peach twig borer causes shoot and fruit damage similar to Oriental fruit moth, however, I do not know if the damage can be as extensive as fruit moth. Organic growers in B.C. can also use Bt. (Dipel) for twig borer, but in Ontario, Dipel does not work on Oriental fruit moth. With respect to diseases, it appears there is little difference between Ontario and B.C.. The dryer climate of South Okanagan and Similkameen Valley are an advantage in disease management.

This book has more than just pest and disease information. It has five sections that cover pests, nutrition, planning and planting an orchard. Section one and two cover some comments on the transition to organic production and management tools, techniques and products used in production. Section three is a list of pests and diseases and management calendars for apples, pears, apricots, peaches & nectarines, cherries, prunes and plums. The fourth section covers details of each pest, biology, monitoring and management information. She includes information on pathological diseases, physiological diseases, vertebrate pests, orchard vegetation and weed management The fifth section covers tree fruit production. This includes fruit set, harvest guidelines, nutrition and planting and replanting orchards. This publication also includes colour plate photographs of pests and diseases and appendices on sources of equipment, information and materials.

Linda Edwards identifies three key areas where management changes are significant in organic production: weed management, soil fertility, and thinning. She notes that organic production does not mean growers no longer have to intervene with sprays or other controls and it does not mean that half of the crop will be unmarketable because of insect and disease damage. Pest monitoring is still very important in an organic program because there are fewer tools available. The timing and implementation of a control will need to be more precise and a grower must use more preventative and long term approaches to pest management. She also explains that pest problems during the first year of transition from a conventional to organic system will be the highest as the pest complex changes.

There is some information and/or a lack of information in this book that I do not understand or agree with. This is to be expected since the topics of pest and disease biology, soil biology, nutrition and horticulture are complex areas. Linda has attempted to create a complete guide that covers many disciplines and she covers them very well. I like the reference lists for each section of the book. This book is certainly worth while for any fruit grower to have on his/her bookshelf and of course, to use for his/her farm.

Table of Contents


I. The Differences Between Conventional and Organic Tree Fruit Production
II. Conditions Specific To The Transition Years
III. When Organic Tree Fruit Production Might Not Be A Good Idea


I. Integrated Crop Management In Organic Production

A. Integrated Crop Management Components
B. Calculating Economic Thresholds

II. Monitoring Techniques And Equipment

Commodity Pest and Disease List And Management Calendars


I. Insect and Mite Pests

A. Insect Pests
B. Mite Pests
C. Insect and Mite Biological Control Agents
D. Nematodes For Control Of Insects
E. Microbials For Control Of Insects

II. Diseases

A. Pathological Diseases: Fungi, Bacteria and viruses
B. Physiological Diseases

III. Vertebrate Pests

A. Rodents
B. Deer
C. Birds

IV. Vegetation Management And Weed Control

V. Cover Crops And Pest Management


I. Getting The Right Fruit Set

A. Pollination And Fertilization
B. Fruit Thinning
C. Pollination and Fruit Thinning by Commodity

II. Harvest Guidelines

A. Harvesting at Optimum Maturity: Evaluation Criteria & Methods
B. Picking & Handling Fruit In An Optimum Manner

III. Tree Fruits Nutrition

A. Basic Concepts And Definitions
B. Assessment Of Nutritional Requirements
C. pH: The Soil Nutrient Regulator
D. Nutrients For Tree Fruits

IV. Planting/Replanting

A. Rootstock Selection
B. Planting Densities
C. Varietal Selection
D. Obtaining Trees For Planting
E. Preparing The Land (including dealing with replant disease)
F. The First Year
G. On-Going And General Orchard Management


Appendix 1. List of Certification Bodies
Appendix 2. List of Sources
Appendix 3. Apple and Pear Grading Standards
Appendix 4. Tree Fruit Spring Stages
Fruit Index