The Finger Lakes’ northeastern climate is key to the question of why we aren’t growing our fruit organically.
Most organic apples are grown in Washington and California, on semi-desert land, where only the damming of rivers enables them to grow fruit. Our climate, with much greater rainfall and humidity, has intense fungal disease pressure that the arid climate doesn’t have.
Apples have been growing in the northeastern US for hundreds of years, whereas Western orchards began much later, and don’t have the extensive complex of apple pests that are present here. To control these pests organic tree-fruit growers use naturally derived pesticides that are less effective and need more frequent sprays.
One might consider the trade-off involved in increased use of fossil fuels to transport organic fruit here from distant locations.
The Integrated Fruit Production model that we use incorporates organic strategies as much as possible: bringing in beneficial pests, pheromone trapping (see photo below) to disrupt mating activity, and some materials approved for organic use.
We use the safest and most environmentally compatible natural or synthetic pesticides available only when absolutely necessary to save the crop or trees from serious damage.
We use only natural fertilizers, we don’t use residual herbicides or any type of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), and we generally don’t spray anything after July.