Spurr Brothers tackled replanting issues in orchards through Perennia
When a crop disease began appearing through their orchard in the summer of 2018, Spurr Brothers Farms Ltd. asked Perennia to get to the root of the problem.
The mixed fruit and vegetable farm in Kingston, Nova Scotia was dealing with replant disease. This occurs when a plant is replaced with the same type, but the new plant does not thrive or grow properly.
“A couple years back I put in a planting, which was mostly Honeycrisp apples. The rootstock they were on were supposed to be tolerant to replant disease.” said Lisa Jenereaux, co-owner of Spurr Brothers.
“But the second year, we noticed a difference in the height of the trees, and some of them started to collapse. I was surprised because I thought we did everything the way we were supposed to. It was also an irrigated site, so it wasn’t from stress or lack of moisture.”
With five family members on the farm and 1,000 acres at stake, the family wanted to ensure continued productivity on all their sites for orchard, potatoes, onions, carrots and grain crops.
They went to Perennia for advice on how to identify and treat the issue. With Perennia’s support, they began trials in the orchard to determine which treatments would be most effective.
Perennia experts conducted small-scale demonstration trials. Measurements of tree performance were also taken, which allowed results to be quantified and treatment options to be recommended.
What Spurr Brothers also realized was that this was a problem facing more orchards in the area. “It’s an issue facing all growers in the Annapolis Valley. So this preliminary work helps guide decisions when we put together a larger trial,” she said. “If we can work toward larger trials and get more comprehensive results to guide growers, it will be huge for the industry.”
Lisa said Perennia’s invaluable guidance and research can help future growers get things right the first time. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm, energy and knowledge at Perennia. We’re happy that we can tap into that, and that this resource is there for us.”
Lisa is excited about the future of the farm and industry in the Annapolis Valley. She hopes the work with Perennia will lead to a more healthy crop, and is now looking at the introduction of new technologies. “We’re planning to bring automation into the farm. We have one platform for apples and we’re looking at getting another. We’re also looking at a robotic weeder, which would help us by saving on costs.”