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Extension Field Training in Spanish addresses "Science behind Horticulture"

Tara Baugher, Maria Gorgo-Gourovitch, Catherine Lara, Penn State Extension A five hour field training for Spanish speakers in the fruit industry was held at Hollabaugh Orchards and the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center in Biglerville, PA on Saturday, November 18, 2017. Presenters for this hands-on workshop were Maria Gorgo-Gourovitch, Penn State Food Safety, IPM and Water Quality Extension Educator and Mario Miranda Sazo, Cornell Extension Fruit Specialist. The program was presented in Spanish to about 50 industry employees who speak Spanish as their primary language. A catered lunch was included. The first presentation: “The Science of Pruning Young, Semi-Young, and More Mature High Density Apple Plantings” addressed the benefits and strategies for proper pruning, corrective pruning, minimal pruning, and limb renewal pruning of tall spindle apple trees. Use of an orchard platform and electric pruners were also demonstrated. Next, “Principles of Integrated Fruit Production—a Holistic Approach to Orchard Management” included hands-on training on ground cover and weed management, fall clean-up practices to suppress disease spread the following season, vertebrate scouting and management, and practices that favor native pollinators and beneficial insects and mites. Participants maintaining pesticide applicator licenses were able to earn 1 category credit during this session. The last topic presented was: “Understanding the Basics of Strict Crop Load Management for High Value Apple Cultivars”. This presentation was a review on how the number of fruit that remain on a tree directly affects yield, fruit size, the quality of fruit that are harvested, and return bloom. Practical discussions addressed hand thinning, fruit distribution, and light penetration/distribution for large fruited varieties like Honeycrisp and for small fruited varieties like Gala. The reasons for specific management practices were explained to and understood at a much deeper level by participants due to presentations being in Spanish. In this workshop, participants gained a lot of insight into the biological processes that occur in the orchards they manage, as evidenced in the survey results. In surveys following the workshop, 94% of participants were interested in developing more environmentally sustainable practices for managing weeds and pests in their orchards, 100% felt they had learned something that could potentially make their farm more profitable in the future (such as more timely weed management and reduced loss to fire blight by pruning out cankers) and 90% of participants felt confident that from now on they could prune out disease cankers during their regular pruning work. Participants also felt confident they could detect and watch for early signs of vole activity (65%). Participants received new pocket field guides and hand lenses as tools to use in the field. A large number felt they could continue to gain more knowledge on their own by using their new pocket field guides to identify new diseases and pests in the orchards (84%) as well as by using their new hand lens to find beneficial as well as pest insects in the orchards (74%). The impact and value of these workshops can also be seen in the large numbers of new and returning participants at similar workshops.