Important Steps to Orchard Replant Success

Originally published on Penn State Extension; Retrieved on 10/20/2016 from


Many factors influence orchard replant success and these can be divided into two very broad categories that include economics and orchard renovation.

 The economics of orchard re-establishment include a number of issues that need to be decided before the trees are even ordered including cultivar, rootstock, training system, trees per acre and method of orchard renovation (e.g., soil fumigation, rotation crops, etc.). Major factors that influence the economics of orchard re-establishment include prices, yields and costs. Interactive computer programs are available to help make orchard replacement decisions.

What is a Replant Problem?

The performance of a replanted orchard is determined by the site, cultural practices and soil-borne factors that affect tree growth and productivity. Unfortunately, many replanted orchards do not perform to their full potential because soil conditions are not optimal and the term “Replant Problem” is frequently used to explain the poor performance of new orchards. In order to make informed decisions on how best to prepare or renovate a replant site it is first necessary to have some understanding of what causes replant problems.

The term “replant problem” is actually an umbrella that covers a host of soil-borne factors that negatively affect tree growth and performance. These factors develop over years of previous orchard production and result from cultural practices and changes in soil ecology. Many factors associated with replant problems are understood but some are not. Some replant problems are caused by a single or primary agent (e.g., stem pitting) while others result from a combination of several factors (e.g., pH, nutrient imbalance, soil compaction).

Orchard Replant Problems

  • Poor Tree Establishment
  • Stunted Growth
  • Reduced Yield
  • Shortened Productive Life

Biotic Factors

A replant problem caused by a biotic agent is often referred to as a replant disease. The agents responsible include pathogenic fungi, bacteria, parasitic nematodes and virus. Some organisms such as the fungus Armillaria and the root-lesion nematode are highly pathogenic and will infect healthy seedlings while weaker pathogens often require conditions that predispose trees to disease such as cold injury, poor nutrition or wounds caused by nematode feeding. Several complex diseases require pathogen interaction such as virus transmission by dagger nematodes.

A few diseases such as stem pitting and root rot are lethal but most are debilitating resulting in trees that simply can not grow or yield to their full potential. Replant diseases are insidious because they may occur on sites where the previous orchard appeared healthy. This can happen because mature trees with an extensive and well-developed root system can tolerate a low level of disease and pathogen populations can build up undetected. It is when the old orchard is removed and new trees are replanted that the pathogens overwhelm the small root system of the young trees.

Abiotic Factors

The abiotic factors that contribute to replant problems develop slowly over the life of one or more previous orchards on the same site. Part of the problem can be traced to soil degradation due to the repeated use of herbicides in the tree row. Without a living ground cover, the level of soil organic matter declines with a concomitant increase in soil compaction. This not only negatively affects the growth of young roots but also makes the site more prone to erosion.

There are also problems of a chemical nature and while some are well documented, others are not. It is known for example that years of orchard production can result in nutrient imbalances and less than optimum soil pH. These issues can easily be detected by standard soil tests. However, other potential problems include residual herbicides and the release of allelochemicals from decomposing old roots that may inhibit root growth of young trees. These problems are not easily identified or corrected.

Remediation of a Replant Site

Remediation of a replant site is an attempt to re-establish optimum soil conditions for healthy tree growth. Therefore, once the decision to replant has been made, every available resource should be used to identify potential biotic and abiotic problems so proper corrective measures can be employed. A replant site evaluation should include a nematode assay, a soil test (including organic matter and pH), a review of the cropping history, an evaluation of future cropping plans and consultation with a specialist.

Soil samples for both the nematode assay and nutrient analysis can be taken at the same time but need to be handled differently. These tests can be performed before the old orchard is removed and the sooner the results are known the more time a grower has to consider options for renovating the site. It may be worthwhile to have the soil tested even if the decision to replant is one or two years in the future. All replant sites should be tested for both nematodes and fertility.

Review of Cropping History and Plans

An evaluation of the cropping history can also help reveal the potential for certain replant problems. For example, assays to detect pathogenic fungi in the soil are not readily available but by knowing if an orchard has a history of soil-borne fungal disease a level of risk can be estimated. If the risk is unacceptably high, fungal control needs to be incorporated into the orchard remediation plan such as crop rotation with wheat, rapeseed or other annuals. Compost is also being evaluated for its ability to suppress soil fungi.

A review of the future cropping plans is an integral part of the site evaluation process. The crop to be planted, the rootstock selected and the spacing of trees may all play a role in determining the need for site remediation. A few examples will illustrate this point: (i) A site infested with root-knot nematode is a serious threat to peach but not to apple. (ii) An apple orchard infested with dagger nematode is at risk for union necrosis only if the rootstock is susceptible to tomato ring spot virus and the scion is resistant. (iii) If the spacing of a new orchard puts some trees in the old tree row and some in the old drive row, it is likely that trees in the old tree row will be stunted.

Important Renovation Steps

Orchard renovation begins with the removal of the old trees. At this step it is important to pull up as much old root debris as possible. Root fragments that are infected with fungi, nematodes or virus serve as reservoirs and carry disease over into the new planting. Root sections can survive for long periods and may send up suckers. In some cases it may be necessary to treat with herbicide to eliminate problems.

It is important that growers tailor their renovation plans to meet specific orchard needs. It is recommended that a replant site remain out of tree fruit for at least two years with several crop rotations. A period under crop rotation will help with the addition of organic matter and also provides an excellent opportunity to incorporate fertilizer and lime, get weeds under control and eliminate virus reservoirs. Depending upon the specific cover crop or green manure, the rotation crop can also help control plant-parasitic nematodes and soil-borne fungi. Leaving a site fallow is not recommended because of the weed, nematode and virus pressure that can develop.

Prepared by John M. Halbrendt, Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center Nematologist

PSI: The case of the ivory insect

Used by permission from GIE media originally printed 9/16/2015, written by Steven D. Frank

PSI: The case of the ivory insect

Whiteflies can destroy ornamentals and edibles. Monitor, treat and prevent with these tips.

Several species of whiteflies are pests of greenhouse vegetable and ornamental crops. The most common are greenhouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum), silverleaf whitefly (Bemisia argentifolii) and sweet potato whitefly (Bemisia tabaci). Whiteflies are so named because the adults look like tiny white flies that flit around plant foliage. They are not flies but sucking insects more closely related to scales, aphids and mealybugs. This is evident when you examine the nymphs, which are translucent scale-like discs on the underside of leaves.

Most plant species can be fed on by some species of whitefly. Common ornamental hosts include poinsettia, gerbera, hibiscus, begonia and coleus. Whiteflies also feed on vegetable crops including cucumbers and herbs.

Whiteflies typically lay eggs on the undersides of leaves. Tiny crawlers hatch and settle on leaves and molt into immobile nymphs. They feed by inserting flexible hollow mouthparts into phloem tissue and sucking the sugary fluid. This results in light green or yellow chlorotic spots on the tops of leaves where nymphs are sucking out fluid below. Like other phloem feeders, whiteflies produce honeydew that leaves shiny patches on leaves where black, sooty mold can grow.

Whiteflies can persist in greenhouses year-round since they feed on so many plant species. They can also reproduce on many weeds inside or outside the greenhouse and on nearby field crops.


Monitor for adults using yellow sticky cards and by brushing plant foliage to watch for whiteflies that flit around and resettle. Scouting for nymphs is difficult and requires turning over leaves to look for the pests. Also look for shiny, sticky honeydew on leaves. Crops like poinsettia are prone to whitefly infestations, so scouting for adults, nymphs and damage is worthwhile.


As with all pests, prevent whiteflies from entering your greenhouse by screening greenhouse doors and vents. Inspect new plants and cuttings for whitefly adults and nymphs before bringing them into a greenhouse. Sanitation is the next line of defense to reduce whitefly abundance and damage. Whiteflies will reproduce on weeds so be sure to remove weeds from the inside and outside of greenhouses. High temperatures and over-fertilizing makes whiteflies and other sucking pests develop faster. So maintain only the temperature and fertilizer necessary to maximize crop performance.

Biological treatment

here are several biological control agents available for whitefly management. Generalist predators like mirid bugs and lacewing larvae feed on many pest species including whiteflies and can help reduce pest pressure. The most common biological control agents for whiteflies are Encarsia and Eretmocerus parasitoids. These tiny wasps lay eggs inside or beneath whitefly nymphs. The wasp larvae then feed and develop within the nymph and emerge as an adult to kill more whiteflies. Pathogens like Beauveria bassiana are also good biological control options for whitefly management. Biological controls are best used preventively since they do not provide rapid suppression of large populations.


Many insecticides are available to include in your whitefly management program. Drenching with systemic insecticides can provide a baseline level of control. Remember that as plants grow they will be using up the insecticide in their tissue and in the soil. Thus, repeat drench applications as recommended on the label and after repotting to maintain efficacy. Foliar insecticides like insect growth regulators can also be used to clean up whitefly nymphs. Since whitefly nymphs are on the undersides of leaves and adults may fly outside of your spray area, assume you will not get them all. Continue monitoring and repeat applications as necessary. Rotate two or three products with different modes of action to reduce the development of insecticide resistance.

BioSafe Systems named one of the top family owned companies in Connecticut

Here at BioSafe, we are very proud of our family-centric heritage and atmosphere. We are a family-run business that creates products for family-run businesses so they can, in turn, create products for families and we were honored to be named one of the top companies in our home state for doing just that.

The Hartford Business Journal awarded a select few that embody the family spirit and how it drives the culture of its employees, its customers and future generations of management in a ceremony on October 14th.

According to the company president Rob Larose,  “From why and how we choose our products based on sustainability to the family atmosphere and culture of our entire company from coast to coast, we focus on what is right and we hope that shows through our employees, our products and our customer service.

To read the entire article and learn about the other Connecticut companies that were honored please visit the digital edition of the Hartford Business Journal here:



Fighting Salmonella to Assure Safe Poultry

Published with permission by Poultry Times.  Originally posted October 6, 2016.

By Katie Keiger

It is difficult to remember that salmonella is alive and not just a cause of human sickness. However, this realization has been around for many years and through studying the harmful bacteria, scientists have found that all bacteria have natural predators called bacteriophages, most of which have no effects on humans.

Nevada Today has reported that the University of Nevada has begun focusing on this trait of salmonella and the results have been promising.

Assistant Professor Amilton de Mello of the university’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, said that his research was able to reduce salmonella by as much as 90 percent in ground poultry.

De Mello experimented by added inMyoviridae bacteriophages to different meat infected with four types of salmonella after being refrigerated.

“The results are very encouraging and we’re hoping this can be adopted by the meat industry to increase food safety.” De Mello said.

The research de Mello is leading is not limited to post-harvest interventions, but also pre-slaughtered physical conditions of the birds.

Aerin Einstein-Curtis of Feed Navigatorreports that there has been research involving bacteriophages in living animals, young pigs and Escherichia coli (E. coli) and other bacterial infections.

According to results in the published journal, Livestock Science, the piglets that had bacteriophages mixed into their feed experienced reduced levels of bacteria as well as a protective effect.

With the recent push towards no antibiotics in animals due to the potential superbugs, bacteriophages may be the best alternative to keeping birds healthy.

Salmonella does not only hurt humans but causes illness in chickens and can be transferred from live birds to humans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that symptoms of chickens are similar to the symptoms in humans, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and cramps. Therefore, treating salmonella prior to slaughter is crucial for the safety of the workers in broiler houses.

Bacteriophages and their potential uses require further research before they are released onto the battlefield fighting salmonella. However, the assault against the deadly bacteria continues in other ways.

The USDA announced in February new federal standards to reduce salmonella and campylobacter in raw poultry products. The USDA’s Food and Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) are using stricter “pathogen reduction performance standards to assess the food safety performance of establishments.” The new standards are expected to reduce salmonella by at least 30 percent.

Composting is Solution to Poultry Mortality Disposal

Published with permission by Poultry Times.  Originally posted September 27, 2016.

By Barbara Olejnik

Composting of dead birds on a poultry farm is a practical way to dispose of the animals as well as a biosecurity solution. Poultry producers need to be aware of composting procedures and have plans in place for composting prior to there being an actual need for the action.

The Cornell Waste Management Institute in Ithaca, N.Y., points out that poultry carcasses left to decay naturally above ground or buried in shallow pits pose risks to surface and groundwater and endanger the health of domestic livestock, wildlife and pets. Improper disposal may also have implications for biosecurity of the flock.

Composting of dead birds, whether in-house or outside, becomes especially important in the event of an outbreak of avian influenza among the flock.

When there is an outbreak of avian influenza — or even other diseases — that can be easily spread, the dead birds should be moved as little as possible to prevent spread of the disease and to also ensure biosecurity of other poultry houses and neighboring farms.

Composting is an inexpensive means of disposal of dead animals and the temperatures reached during properly managed composting will kill or greatly reduce most pathogens.

The Cornell Institute lists the benefits of composting as:

  • Can kill pathogens and help control disease outbreaks.
  • Can be done any time of the year, even when the ground is frozen.
  • Can be done with equipment available on most farms.
  • Relatively odor-free.
  • All sizes and volumes of animals can be composted.
  • Egg waste and hatching waste can be composted.
  • Relatively low requirements for labor and management.
  • Economical.

For outside composting where there is not a disease concern, a site should be selected that is well-drained and away from landscape areas near water sources. Moderate to well-drained, hard-packed soils with gentle slopes of about 2 percent are best for composting sites.

Neighbors should also be considered when selecting an outside composting site. Farmers should determine the dominant wind direction and if most airflow is directed toward populated areas.

In New York State, for example, permitted compost facilities need to be at least 200 yards away from the closest dwelling. They cannot be in a floodplain or wetland, where seasonal high groundwater is less than 24 inches from the ground surface or where bedrock is less than 24 inches below the ground surface, unless provisions have been made to protect the water.

Composting, whether outside or in-house, is accomplished by layering wood chips or other carbon source, followed by a layer of birds and litter and then covered with another layer of wood chips — a process that continues until a windrow of the combined material is two or three layers high.

When composting birds in-house following a highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak, USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service requires two 14-day active composting cycles, turning after the first cycle to ensure inactivation of the HPAI virus.

During the first 14-day cycle, temperature probes of the compost windrow should record temperatures in the range of from 110 degrees F to 150 degrees F to kill the disease. If these temperatures are not reached, testing for presence of the disease will be required.

Heat destroys the AI virus, but can remain viable at moderate temperatures for long periods and indefinitely in frozen material.

According to the Cornell Institute, the virus is killed by heat (133 degrees F for three hours or 140 degrees F for 30 minutes) and with common disinfectants such as formalin and iodine compounds.  Composting during cold and freezing weather is best conducted in-house so the virus is more contained and there is some protection from cold and wind.

If frozen material is composed in carbon, it will remain frozen until the ambient temperature is reached, then will heat up and begin the complete composting procedure.  While composting out of the barn in winter weather can be accomplished, it will definitely be a harder fight.

The Cornell Institute quotes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as stating: “On-site composting has been proven effective in deactivating avian influenza virus. On-site composting limits the risk of groundwater and air contamination, the potential for farm to farm disease transmission and transportation costs and tipping fees associated with off-site disposal.”

Farm owners/operators and their employees could be exposed to avian influenza when working to depopulate the flocks and composting of the carcasses.

“Taking precautions to prevent adverse human health events related to emergency response efforts is important,” the Cornell Institute stressed. “In an HPAI response, personal protection and safety is particularly essential to protect individuals from HPAI.”

To protect people from a virus, personal protective equipment (PPE) is needed when working on an infected site. These include PPE to put on and cover the body, head, eye, foot and hand, as well as a respirator.