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Young Grower Alliance Members Attend IFTA Summer Study Tour of Western New York

This past July, eight members of the Penn State Extension Young Grower Alliance attended the IFTA summer study tour of Western New York. Members had the opportunity to carpool to the tour together, and shared an evening meal with other young growers from across the northeast.
Carpooling to Rochester!

Carpooling to Rochester!

The tour included visits to innovative orchards across New York’s Lake Ontario fruit production region. Orchard demonstrations focused on increasing efficiency by utilizing high density training systems and automated platforms to allow for the mechanization of many routine orchard tasks. The tour also included a day-long visit to the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva to learn about current research projects being conducted by scientists of both Cornell University and the USDA.

Discussing mechanization at a commercial orchard
Discussing mechanization at a commercial orchard.

Tony Mcdonnell, Terhune Orchards, had the following to say about his experience:

“This three day program was an incredible learning experience, and I gained a lot of practical knowledge which I look forward to putting into action. Many growers in the region are moving towards even closer plantings of dwarf apple trees, and they are bringing excitement to the industry with the new varieties beginning to come into full production. The new varieties, some developed by Cornell, as well as the Geneva series of rootstock, have helped to make the “fruiting wall” system a reality. In addition to this cutting edge system of planting, I observed the huge push that is being made to make apple growing more efficient. From self-propelled platforms to trees grown in the nursery in a manner to allow automated hedging, it was clear that the growers in Upstate New York truly are some of the most innovative in the world. I would like to thank YGA for the opportunity to carpool to the tour and for putting on the dinner with the other young growers.”

Comparing high density pear training systems
Comparing high density pear training systems at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station.

rows of young nursery trees
Walking through rows of young nursery trees.

group dinner
Learning about each other’s operations over dinner.

YGA offers many opportunities for young growers to come together to explore and discuss innovations in specialty crop production. YGA’s next event is scheduled for November 15th at Tuscarora Organic Growers Cooperative in Hustontown, PA.