Peach Marketing Order Hearing

Fall Peach Roundtable

I hope that everyone has registered for the fall Peach Roundtable, to be held at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center.  It will be held on September 17th, 2015, from 8:45 am – 3:00 pm, and lunch will be provided. We will have a trade show with multiple vendors, which is a great opportunity to stay in touch and see new products and haggle prices! Gary England and the central Florida Peach Extension Team has put an extended day of talks and opportunities for feedback from our growers.

To register:

Peach Marketing Order Hearing

FlordaPrinceAnother marketing order hearing will be held at the Fall Peach Roundtable on September 17, 2015 at 3:00 pm at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center. If you can’t attend the workshop, but would like to provide input, please attend to make yourself heard. Chris Denmark will attend from FDACS in Tallahassee to answer any and all questions.

This will be one of two more opportunities to provide feedback on the final document that will go out to vote, most likely in January, 2016 to be implemented in April – May, 2016.


Help Requested for Nematode Survey

Hi Everyone,

Ever wonder why we only  have one commercial rootstock that we use for Florida peach production?  It’s because of a type of root-knot nematode found only here in Florida.  In fact, it’s scientific name is Meloidogyne floridensis. 

If you have it in your orchard, you might see short shoot growth, early bloom, and a general delay in fruit development (see below). IMG_0680The tree on the right was found to have nematode galls on the root system that was affecting the tree growth.  Successive years of weak growth can cause tree collapse, and will require removal and replanting.

Help Us Out!

So, what can be done?  First things first, we need some help!  Dr. Janete Brito at FDACS, DPI in Gainesville would like to conduct a survey of growers orchards.

Here is her request:

Scientists of FDACS, Division of Plant Industry, University of Florida, IFAS and other research agencies are joining forces through a cooperative Farm Bill agreement to study and identify plant-parasitic nematodes associated with peach trees in Florida peach orchards. So far, the potential risk posed by these nematodes to the new peach industry in Florida has not been fully assessed because of lack of information on their identity and distribution in the state. Scientists involved in this cooperative project are confident that an intensive nematode survey in Florida peach followed by accurate morphological and molecular analyses of plant-parasitic nematodes found will provide precise information on the species that parasitize peach in Florida. Additionally, an associated survey for detection of plum pox virus (PPV) will be carried out. The results of these surveys will provide information about the incidence of these pathogens in Florida peach.

The sites to be surveyed for nematodes will include existing peach orchards, nurseries and land destined to peach production, including abandoned citrus groves. The support and cooperation of the peach growers in the form of access to orchards, nurseries and other sites to be sampled are much needed for the success of this project. As permission and access to the sites to be surveyed is granted, a timetable and strategy will be developed trying to minimize potential interference with the activity of peach growers involved in the survey. Scientists are hoping that this initiative will receive a favorable reception by the Florida peach industry. Peach growers wishing more information about this cooperative project or willing to provide access to their orchards for the survey should contact Dr. Janete Brito, FDACS nematologist; phone: (352)395-4752; e-mail: janete.brito@freshfromflorida. com.

Thank you in advance for helping to figure out where these nematodes are, so that we can target control methods. If you have any questions, please let Dr. Brito know! Cheers, Mercy

Inking on Peach Fruit

Hello all,

I’ve had a few e-mails and phone calls about inking on peach fruit harvested in the past two weeks. Clemson University has a good publication with pointers to avoid inking – although I have to say, we do not know what causes inking on fruit surfaces.

One cause may the rainfall that we have had – which may have washed chemicals onto the fruit that have high amounts of metals (including micronutrients!).  Also, precipitation/overirrigating near harvest can increase the water pressure (turgor) in cells, but this also makes them more vulnerable to abrasion damage during harvest/transportation and then anthocyanin accumulates causing what we know as “inking” in spots.

Here is a link to the article from Clemson:

Research from California indicate that not only do some chemicals with high metal contents have higher incidences of inking, but so does abrasions on the skin surface.  These might be from harvesting, wind damage, or abrasions in harvesting.

A couple of culprits that might have been issues this year may be Imidan and Elite (tebuconazole), although with Elite, I am watching my own research orchard, as this was my last spray on Saturday. However, we are very far behind everyone else in the throes of harvest and are about 2-3 weeks away from harvest, so we may not see much inking on the skin surface.

Steps to Avoid Inking:

  • Near harvest, choose chemical applications carefully.
    • These chemicals have high metal contents –
      • Foliar nutrients: Micro Plex (Fe)
        Insecticides: Imidan (Al), Delegate (Al)
        Miticides: Vendex (Fe and Al), Acramite (Fe and Al), Omite (Al)
        Fungicides: Elite (AL)
        Additives: none
  • Don’t apply foliar micronutrients within approximately 21 days of harvest to avoid having metals on the fruit surface (e.g., copper, iron, aluminum) that have been implicated in inking.
  • Check the pH of your irrigation/spray water. Water with acidic characteristics (<6.5) can exacerbate inking due to increased iron availability.
  • Don’t overwater near harvest, as this can damage cells in the skin and cause anthocyanin accumulation, leading to inking symptoms.
  • With orchards that have a history of inking, leave harvested fruit in cooler for 48h prior to packing to observe inking symptoms; remove before packing.

As always, call or email me with questions!





2015 Wet Spring Leading to Potential Brown Rot Issues

Brown Rot in Gulfking
Brown Rot in Gulfking

I hope that everyone is having a good harvest so far, although I will have to say it’s been challenging with all of the rain we have had here in Central Florida.

One issue that we don’t often have to deal with is Brown Rot.  However, with the afternoon rainshowers that we have had (in some cases over 3 inches over the past couple of weeks), it is showing up in some of the harvested fruit, particularly in the bottom part of the fruit.

We are working on an EDIS publication for future reference; however here are some quick points.

Brown Rot

Brown rot is caused by a fungus, Monilinia fruticola and is often an issue in areas with frequent rainfall during fruit development.

Primary infections occur in the spring and can lead to flower death and reduced yield, but secondary infections affect the fruit.  In addition, abortion of mature fruit, e.g., “mummies” that fall to the orchard floor can serve as inoculum for future infections with later ripening periods.

G. England
Brown Rot in Mature Fruit, G. England

Disease Cycle

The continuous production of spores by mummies, cankers, and apothecia fuel the disease cycle and the infection of blossoms and fruit. Brown rot flourishes under conditions of high humidity (>94%) and optimal temperatures occur around 77°F (25°C). Rain, wind and insect activity lead to the release of spores that initiate the infection.

Secondary infection occurs as blossoms and shoots that have been initially infected begin producing spores, and can continue to do so until early June. If secondary spore production can be prevented by the use of effective management techniques, the disease can be more easily contained. The presence of infected fruit and mummies can also act as a source to spread brown rot.


Management for brown rot should begin before anticipated rain events occur, and guidelines for recommended fungicides are listed in the SE Peach Spray Guide:

Please remember to rotate your fungicide chemical classes (as indicated by the FRAC codes) to avoid resistance risk.  There have been races of brown rot that have been identified as resistant to certain classes of fungicides – although there is a fungicide resistance kit that can be ordered to verify that the fungicide is at fault.

Key Points

As always – if you have any questions or concerned, please let me know!


Florida Peach Marketing Order Hearings

Hi Everyone,

As you all know, I have been trying to get a Florida Peach Growers Association up and running. Phil Rucks has taken the reins to investigate the possibility of getting a Statewide Marketing Order for peaches that will help to provide resources for marketing and research.

There must be two public hearings before a vote can go to the growers in the state; and the first one will be on May 12th, 2015 at the next Peach Roundtable to be held in Dade City at 10:00 AM at the Pasco County Extension Office, 36702 State Road 52, Dade City, FL 33525.

The second public hearing will be on Wednesday May 20th, 2015 at 2:00 PM at the Polk County Extension office in the Stuart Center, 1702 Highway 17 S, Bartow, FL 33831.

I hope that you will be able to attend – and Phil would like the name of anyone that is willing to serve on the advisory committee for the marketing order. See Phil’s email for more information. I am also attaching the paperwork that is needed to re-establish the Florida Peach Growers’ Association.

In addition, two contacts at FDACS for marketing orders are:

Marshall Wiseheart – 850-410-2290

Milton Rains – 352-406-0707.

Hope to see you there!

Freeze Watches/Warnings

Freezing cold weather is set to wash over the state of Florida tonight into tomorrow night, so please be prepared!

A few comments about freeze protection in orchards:

  1. Be sure that your orchard is well-watered – we will be getting sun each day, and wet soil has a greater capacity to absorb heat, and also release it during the night, offering a few degrees of protection.
  2. Watch the weather – and keep your coffee pot going.  For those in Central Florida and to the south, it looks like the temperature will drop to a critical period around 2 a.m. on Friday morning.  However, if the wind is too high, you may induce evaporative cooling rather than protect the fruit, which can do more severe damage.
  3. Know what your irrigation system capabilities are to be able to meet the appropriate water output.
    1. See: – this is for citrus, but the principles that they go over, like reading a sling psychrometer are useful to understand.
  4. Hold off on any orchard related activities, like thinning fruit – the cold weather may do a good job of that for you!

Weather Related Resources:

  • The National Weather Service – – just put in your city or zip.  I find that the best resource is a graph like this which gives you the temperature and wind speed which is important:










For those of you that might be stressed – have heart!  It won’t be as cold as it will be in Citra, FL at our research plots for peaches and blueberries!

As always, if you have any questions, please contact me –

Florida Peach Growers Association

One of the things that many growers have said to me over the 5 years that I’ve been at UF in this position is, “I wish we had a statewide organization”.  Or something like that…(I’m paraphrasing).  With the industry as large as it was in the 1980s, I was actually surprised that there wasn’t an organization.

However, “necessity is the mother of invention”- and the Central Florida Peach Growers Meeting was initiated by a great group of extension agents – Chris Oswalt, Alicia Whidden, Gary England, and Cami Esmel McAvoy.  This has led to a regular meeting/roundtable that has given growers a great opportunity to “ask the scientist” and to learn from each other.

But what about those in S. Florida and N. Florida?  Thus, there is a need to form a statewide organization. I’ve introduced this topic at the Winter Workshop in Fort Pierce last month and I presented a short introduction to possible organization scenarios.  The good news is that there was a Florida Peach Growers Association before, so the name is “on the books” in Tallahassee.

Now comes the tough part.  We need people to volunteer to help us out.  Growers, commercial folks, nursery personnel, marketers – everyone is welcome to the table.  We need representation at the table  when something comes up, like providing input on a Caribbean Fruit Fly Protocol so that our peach fruit can be accepted into other states, as well as other industry challenges that may need a nimble response, or research/extension priorities.

Many of those involved in the peach industry do not solely grow peaches and have experience with, or are members of other organizations.  I’d like to be able to take the things that work well in those organizations for you and duplicate that for this statewide organization!  We also need to think about large, medium, and small growers so that this group can put out information that is appropriate for all operation sizes.

The next steps are to:

  1. Volunteer
  2. Set up a meeting – I was hoping to shoot for the last week in January or first week in February (please attend and let’s see what we can get done!)
  3. Decide on group objectives
  4. Define industry challenges and discussion solutions
  5. Action!

Please let me know what you think.  I hope to have more information next week on a possible location and topic discussions.  Stay tuned!

Cold Weather Knocking on the Door…

I hope that everyone had a FANTASTIC Christmas vacation (ala Clark Kent style) and is having a great start to their new year.  As we start off this new year, cold weather comes knocking on our door in north central Florida, a normal occurrence.

Freeze warnings/wind chill advisories (1/7/15)

There maybe some of you in north central Florida that are closely watching the weather tonight.  For the following counties, there is a hard freeze warning:

  • Alachua
  • Gilchrist
  • Bradford
  • Union
  • Baker
  • Columbia
  • Suwannee
  • Hamilton

The good news is that hopefully, the peach trees are still resting are not in full bloom.  For a guide to bud stages and their tolerance to cold temperatures – click here.

For counties to the south and east, it’s a freeze warning:

  • Clay
  • Putnum
  • Marion

Again – I don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about unless the wind speed drops down.  However, NOAA is forecasting a blustery night with wind speeds sustained at over 15 mph.  In most cases, frost protection would not be turned on with these advective conditions.   Most all others in the peach growing region of Central Florida will have mid to upper 30s so stay warm!


Freeze Warning and Watches

Well, here we go with the rollercoaster of temperatures in central and south central Florida. So what is going on with the peach trees right now?

Don’t worry!  The peach trees are headed into dormancy, and although the buds have the possibility of suffering a minor amount of damage (<10%), we don’t anticipate any major issues with flower bud damage.  There is NO need to turn on irrigation for frost protection tonight and it is expected to warm slightly tomorrow night, so no frost protection for the next night as well.

The UF Stone Fruit Research/Extension team has a new project in cooperation with Georgia (UGA) for both blueberries and peaches and we will be tracking bud damage as a result of the expected freeze event tonight at our research plots in Citra, FL.  We be looking at flower buds in TropicBeauty peach and Emerald and Jewel blueberry varieties.  When we have the information, we will be posting it here on the blog, as well as on our website,

Freeze Watch/Warning Information:

For a list of current freeze warnings and watches:


New Organic Herbicide, FSMA Comments, and Funding for Peach/Strawberry Breeding Efforts

Hello Everyone!  It’s been a while since I posted here, but here are a few things of interest to the peach community:

Suppress Herbicide EC for Organic Weed Control

Westbridge Agricultural Products recently gained EPA registration of Suppress Herbicide EC, a new tool for organic growers in the battle against weeds.

Suppress Herbicide EC is registered as a broad spectrum contact herbicide for post-emergent, non-selective weed control for use in all agricultural food and non-food crops.

The formulation is an emulsifiable concentrate approved by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) for use in organic food production.

In four years of university research trials, the herbicide consistently revealed positive results in controlling various weeds.

Weed control is always a difficult challenge for organic growers and there are few effective and economical options available for use on organic food crops.

The introduction of this new product is exciting news and what organic growers have been waiting for, says Westbridge President Tina Koenemann.

The herbicide provides growers with a valuable tool to help meet their production goals. It could also prove to be a valuable option for conventional growers as a rotational herbicide where resistant weeds have become a problem.

Westbridge Agricultural Products is a manufacturer and distributor of liquid organic fertilizers, bio pesticides, and specialty inputs.

For more information:

Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) Comment Period

From USDA:
On September 29, 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published in the Federal Register for public comment four supplemental proposed rules addressing specific provisions from the various original proposals, based on comments reviewed so far.

The four Supplemental Notices of Proposed Rulemaking are:

  1. Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption. Docket number FDA-2011-N-0921 (LINK TO FED REGISTER This is the produce/farm rule and also impacts produce packinghouses located on farms.
  1. Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food. Docket number FDA-2011-N-0920 (LINK TO FED REGISTER This is the manufacturing/processing rule and also impacts produce packinghouses not located on farms.
  1. Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals. Docket number FDA-2011-N-0922 (LINK TO FED REGISTER This is the manufacturing/processing rule for animal food.
  1. Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Foreign Supplier Verification Program for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals. Docket number FDA-2011-N-0143 (LINK TO FED REGISTER This is the importer rule.

These supplemental proposed rules are key components of the preventive approach to food safety established by FSMA. They only include the major areas where FDA is re-proposing new language from the original proposal, so areas that are not being re-proposed are not being published again. FDA continues to review all comments received on the original proposals and will take them into account as they move forward in the rulemaking process, including new comments submitted on these four supplemental proposed rules.

The produce industry, other stakeholders, and the general public are being asked to participate in the rulemaking process by reviewing the supplemental proposed rules and submitting comments to FDA or at the portal ( by the due date of December 15, 2014. We suggest that you provide substantive, specific comments with as much detail as you can provide on what works for you and what doesn’t work (and why) on these specific areas. Your input will help guide our colleagues at FDA as they draft final rules on produce safety, preventive controls for human and animal food, and imports of human and animal food. The regulations for these four rules will become effective only after the final rules are published in the Federal Register along with established compliance dates.

Should you have questions about FDA’s supplemental proposed rules or any other FDA-related issue, please contact our FDA colleagues at or Food and Drug Administration, 5100 Paint Branch Parkway, Wiley Building, HFS-009, College Park, MD 20740, Attn: FSMA Outreach.

USDA Specialty Crop Grants Awarded to UF Faculty

Two new projects have been funded through the USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative involving UF Faculty.

rosbreed2_logofbThe first project, RosBREED: Combining Disease Resistance with Horticultural Quality in New Rosaceous Cultivars will help both the strawberry and peach industries in Florida.  Dr. Mercy Olmstead, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in the Horticultural Sciences Department, is the Extension Lead for this national project and Dr. Vance Whitaker, is an Assistant Professor and Strawberry Breeder in the Horticultural Sciences Department a demonstration breeder, who will use new genetic tools to make the breeding process more efficient and be able to deliver a product to the marketplace with superior fruit quality and disease resistance.  Rosaceous crops in the Rosaceae family include apple, cherry, peach, pear, blackberry, and rootstocks for these crops.

From the press release:

A national team of scientists working on genomics, genetics, and breeding of rosaceous crops has been awarded funds for the first year of a $10 million, five year USDA – NIFA – SCRI competitive grant. The team will develop and apply modern DNA-based tools to deliver new cultivars – cultivated varieties – with superior product quality and disease resistance.

This award from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative will be managed by Project Director Amy Iezzoni of Michigan State University. She and project co-Director Cameron Peace, Washington State University, will lead a group of 35 scientists from 14 U.S. institutions along with numerous international cooperators. Entitled “RosBREED: Combining Disease Resistance with Horticultural Quality in New Rosaceous Cultivars”, the project will adapt and demonstrate new DNA-based tools in 22 U.S. breeding programs, focusing on eight crops: apple, blackberry, peach, pear, rose, strawberry, sweet cherry, and tart cherry.

RosBREED brings unprecedented attention to local and regional breeding programs and a commitment to more efficiently, accurately, and creatively develop commercial scion and rootstock cultivars. The team will build on the foundation established in the preceding RosBREED project, now adding key new scientists and targeting diseases industry stakeholders across the country have identified as key challenges. Using modern DNA tools, U.S. breeders will now be able to more rapidly develop cultivars with disease resistance combined with superior horticultural quality. Producers will have more options to sustainably protect their crops, while consumers and the entire supply chain will directly benefit from products with better taste, nutrition, keeping ability, and appearance.

For more information:

The second project being funded to UF scientists is: Genome Database for Rosaceae: Empowering Specialty Crop Research through Big Data-Driven Discovery and Application in Breeding is a $2.7 million, five-year project that will help the research community and breeders to connect and find genetic information about Rosaceae crops.  This project will collect all of the genetic knowledge needed to help researchers and breeder make their jobs more efficient so that new fruit varieties will be released with superior fruit quality in a shorter time period that will ultimately benefit the consumer. Dr. Dorrie Main, the lead PI is based at Washington State University in Pullman, WA and will lead a team of 10 scientists in this effort.

Dr. Mercy Olmstead is leading the extension effort on this project as well but will conduct research with Dr. Katie Stofer in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications on how scientists can improve their communication skills to tell their stakeholders the importance of their research results.

For more information on this database for tree fruit (and what it can do for you!):