Tree Fruit (Mid-Atlantic)
Coordinated by Mahfuz Rahman (MM.Rahman@mail.wvu.edu), Plant Pathology Extension Specialist and Director of WVU Plant Diagnostic Clinic, West Virginia University

Background

Suitable weather condition and large geographical areas with varied topography in the Mid-Atlantic states (WV, VA, MD and PA) allows for the production of tree fruits. The majority of orchards in WV are located in the eastern panhandle counties whereas most VA orchards are in Northern Shenandoah Valley and along the slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Most of the orchards in PA and MD are within 100 miles from eastern panhandle of WV.

Commercial orchards in WV grow apple, pear, peach, plum, apricot, cherry in over 6000 acres. Between 2009 and 2011, the average annual value for apple in WV totaled over $23 million, and peach over $5.3 million whereas this number for VA was $35 million and $5 million, respectively (USDA-NASS, 2012).

The Plant Diagnostic Clinic (PDC) at West Virginia University (WVU) provides plant pest diagnostic services to West Virginia citizens, with support from WVU Extension Service, WV Department of Agriculture (WVDA) and other relevant agencies. Mid-Atlantic Tree Fruit Pest Program Coordinator Dr. Rahman is also the Director of WVU-PDC, which provides additional opportunities for student interns to communicate in a real time and learn diagnostic protocols more efficiently. 

 IPM Meeting in Orchard WV 
iPiPE talk by Dr. Rahman during Tree fruit IPM Meeting 
at Orr's Orchard, WV

Objective

The  objective of this project is to provide pest information on prevalence, distribution, and prediction to tree fruit producers in the Mid-Atlantic region. This will entail timely pest commentary, updating and development of IPM tools to better manage emerging and endemic tree fruit pests. This project is also involved in training undergraduate student interns in pest scouting, diagnostics and submitting pest observations to online iPiPE platform. Student interns are getting ample opportunities to work with extension personnel to provide pest identification and management information to the stakeholders involved with tree fruit industry and the general public.

 

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Situation

Many invasive and emerging insects, diseases and weeds pose threat to the Mid-Atlantic tree fruit industry. Due to high relative humidity during the growing season, disease management often is more challenging and IPM approaches are necessary in order to obtain a sustainable management. Among insect pests, invasive Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB; Halyomorpha halys) that was inadvertently introduced near Allentown, PA in the late 1990’s from Asia has now spread to all states in the Mid-Atlantic fruit growing region and has caused extensive damage. In addition with tree fruits, its host range includes vegetables, field crops such as corn and woody plants. Another exotic invasive insect, Spotted Lantern Fly was confirmed in PA in 2014, which also has a very broad host range similar to BMSB. This insect is now on the top of the watch list of orchard scouts due to the potential of spread in the region. Among the diseases, Fire blight of apple and pear together with Brown rot of stone fruit cause significant yield losses on a recurrent basis.

Important Pests

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Summer Fruit Tortrix, Light Brown Apple Moth, Pear Leaf Blister Moth, Codling Moth, Lesser and Greater peach Borer, Fire Blight, Glomerella Leaf Spot, Alternaria Leaf Blotch, Japanese Apple Rust, Pear Brown Rot, Cedar Apple Rust

 
Fireblight closeup

Fireblight WV 
Orchards showing severe Fire blight infections in WV