A few notes from the Great Lakes Fruit/Vegetable Conference

Just got back from the Conference in Grand Rapids, MI.

First time I’ve been to the Expo. It was pretty good. It was nice to hear presentations from some of the most recognized leaders and researchers in the fruit industry.

Of course the conference was based on commercial production, but I thought there were a few takeaways which might interest backyard growers.

Most of these points experience backyard growers have already figured out, but it was interesting to know research backs these things up.

Re: peaches:

-Dwarf and semi-dwarf rootstocks produce higher brix fruits than standard trees.

-Peaches higher in the canopy ripen earlier and have higher brix (no surprise there)

-Unthinned peach trees ripen later and have lower brix than thinned trees. Brix is lower by up to 3 points vs. peach trees which have a lighter crop.

-Guardian rootstock is the most hardy rootstock for peaches. K-1 is the least hardy. K-86 takes the longest to shut the tree down for winter dormancy, but is also the latest to come out of dormancy (possibly useful in areas where spring frosts are problematic).

-Unthinned peach trees produce significantly less fruit buds for the following season (on the varieties tested) to the point that they didn’t produce enough fruit buds to have a full crop the following season. This was measured before winter kill and spring frosts, which can obviously reduce the crop further.

-No persuasive research to indicated spray-on frost protectants improve frost tolerance of peach blooms.

-High humidity conditions increase frost damage in peach blooms. 28F with high humidity can be worse for blooms than 25F with low humidity. This is new research compared to the old MSU frost damage tables where humidity wasn’t factored in.

-Trece OFM combo lures perform much much better than straight phermone lures in orchards where mating disruption is practiced (basically it’s a waste of time to use straight phermone traps when mating disruption is used).

-Ghost traps with impregnated insecticide netting worked extremely well to kill BMSB. These traps are very effective in controlling BMSB, which is different than traps for J. beetles. J. beetle traps bring beetles in from long distances, whereas BMSB ghost traps are only attractive to BMSB for about 30 meters.

-Spain is doing research and using controlled water deprivation (around pit hardening time) to improve brix of peaches in commercial production.

Here are some pics from the trade show:

Here is a lightweight hand held shielded spray to spray concentrate on weeds. Supposed to spray a very light film inside the hood for concentrate sprays.

Here is a pair of teflon coated pruners from Kamikaze. The guy at the booth had a pair of brand new high dollar felco pruners he claimed he bought that morning. He had me try the teflon pruners vs. the felco pruners on some pretty hard wood. The teflon coated pruners cut a lot easier - a lot easier. I don’t know how long the teflon coating would stay on, but if it stays on good, this is a new technology (as applied to pruners) which will make non-teflon coated pruners obsolete. I saw at least one other brand of teflon coated pruners at the trade show, so this isn’t the only brand.

I took a pic of a summary poster of research on kickback activity of various insecticides for SWD.

As mentioned, it was kind of neat to meet leading people in the industry after reading their articles for a long time. I saw Bill Shane sitting by himself for lunch and my wife and I sat down at his table while I probed him with questions over lunch. Paul Friday was at the conference. A friend of mine suggested a get a photo with the icon, so I did (I’m the younger guy, lol.)

Paul Friday had just told me a joke (as follows). A man was following his wife around a grocery store, while she was buying expensive face creams. The man asked, “Why are you buying that stuff?” She replied, “I want to look good for you.” He responds, “Let’s go to the beer aisle. $7.50 there will do the same thing.” Paul Friday’s deadpan delivery made it pretty funny.


Thank you, Mark. Always learned something new and useful from your posts.

Nice hat :smile:

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With peach rootstocks, I’ve made sure they are cold hardy and disease resistant. I don’t really know what rootstocks are dwarf or semi-dwarf. Any suggestions?

Hi Tippy,

I don’t remember all the dwarf and semi-dwarf rootstocks they were comparing in some of the studies presented. I do remember seeing some of the Controller series rootstocks. K-86 is a full vigor rootstock for peach. K-1 is a semi-dwarf, as are most of the Controller rootstocks.

I probably won’t use the dwarf or semi-dwarf rootstocks. My experience, although the fruit is a bit sweeter, it isn’t worth the more seemingly fragile nature of the lower vigor rootstocks.

K-86 sounds interesting. I had a peach tree on K-86 once, but I can’t remember what I did with it. I may have pulled it out because I didn’t like the variety on top of it. I’m just not sure.

One other thing I might mention, which might be interesting to some is that the owner or manager of Hilltop Nurseries (can’t remember her name right now - daugter of Wally Hueser) mentioned that Fruit Acres is coming out with another new peach in their Stellar series. I’ve had pretty good luck with several of the Stellar series peaches. So I’m looking forward to the new peach. I haven’t yet tried their latest release “Sweetstar” but Bill Shane told me it was a peach worthy of growing.


This may be opening a can of worms but I thought there were no viable dwarf/semi-dwarf rootstocks for peaches? As far as I know Guardian, Halford, Bailey, Lovell, Siberian C, Nemaguard, Red Peach (Whatever Stark Bros uses) produced full size trees if not heavily pruned? Or do I have this all wrong? Citation from what I read does not work well unless in ideal California seasons, K1 I thought runted and had compatibility issues (may be wrong). Is there a viable dwarf peach rootstock that works in less than ideal (perfect?) growing areas/seasons?

I couldn’t find a source for the Kamikaze hand pruners. I sent an e-mail to the company.

I’m interested but my hands don’t really like the shape of the handle. I actually looked to see if ARS had started producing a teflon coated product. I found another make that doesn’t target professionals but with a handle shape better suited for me. I almost ordered it, but doubt crept into my mind. I’ve never found a really good pruner that targets the non-professional market.


It is hard for me to believe the teflon would make that much difference. I would prefer a direct comparison to the ARS VS pruner I use which also cuts better than a Felco- but without teflon. The Japanese steel is harder and sharper.

How about trying a Teflon spray coating on your favorite pruners ?

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I am starting to use peach seedlings as mother trees and graft named varieties on them.

The guy with the Kamikaze pruners had a booth called EZ kut. I tried to buy some of the pruners from him, but he said he was taking orders and wouldn’t be able to ship them till January. I just looked at their website and they don’t show the teflon pruners. Here is a pic of his card (used a picture instead of typing the info. to prevent the guy from getting computer generated spam).

I can’t remember where I saw other teflon coated pruners. Oesco had a booth there. I may have seen some at that booth. I search on their website and came up with this, but I can’t remember if these were the teflon pruners I saw (and I didn’t try them out).


Actually teflon coated sprays aren’t really the same thing as true teflon coating. It turns out teflon’s anti-stick properties make it pretty hard to make it stick to metal too. It’s a bit of a process which requires etching the metal, heat, and special teflon chemicals.

I’m suspect some type of spray-on teflon for pruners would only work if the spraying was done after every cut.


I’ve only used the semi-dwarfs, Citation and K1, and those were only on single trees. All these semi-dwarf rootstocks (including Nemaguard) make fragile trees imo.

I’m sure it’s probably worse for dwarfs they are doing research on. That hasn’t seemed to stop the push of dwarfs in the apple industry. Everyone is moving from semi-dwarfs to dwarfed trellised apples. These are also much more fragile trees and runt out easy unless babied along. But as you know, they do produce faster and require less pruning labor, which is why the big push.

The single peach tree I have on K1 didn’t runt out, but isn’t doing all that well. It didn’t put hardly any growth on last season. But I don’t baby my peach trees, so I’m sure that’s a factor. With regular doses of fertilizer and irrigation, I think trees on some of these semi-dwarf rootstocks would perform well. Probably the same with dwarf peach rootstocks, although I think they can be more winter tender.

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Me too!

I’ve not been able to tell any difference b/t named full vigor peach rootstocks vs. seedlings. It saves me a little money to make copies of trees myself rather than buying them (although I still buy the patented varieties).

I can see with long use though it also coming off. But if it lasts years, worth using. The best lubricant I have used is Motorkote. I would not use it on pruners unless on wood I didn’t care about. Motorkote will only stick to metal. It turns my freshly sharpened chain saw into a diamond edged cutting machine. It protects the sharpness, well at least for the first dozen cuts or so. It’s like I have a diamond tipped chainsaw! Wherever you would use WD40 this stuff is ten times better. It only sticks to metal. Used to reduce engine wear. But the all purpose spray is amazing, very expensive, worth every penny. I love it on bike chains, sliding door walls, to protect battery terminals, and electrical connections. It is clear and leaves no residue. I just threw out the WD40.

Also the best lubricant for pruners is by far the ARS blade cleaner and lubricant. If used on a new blade, it will never oxidize.Just clean it after every use or even every use. My 5 year old pruners look shiny new!


I will never be without these two products. Both amazing and great when a product actually works!


Re teflon coated blades: Since many of the better brands sell replacement blades it’s probably only a matter of (not very much) time until you can by teflon coated replacements, ay?