The Wisconsin Apple Growers Association and UW-Extension hosted the annual apple field day this month at Munchkey Apples in Mount Horeb.
Brad Tisch owns and operates the 9,000-tree apple farm with his family. Tisch, who presented at the field day on irrigation, says this year has been a great year for apples if growers had irrigation. He expects a great crop this fall — “another banner year” — if the hail stays away.
Troy Gibbs is a contractor for Rantizo, a drone service provider. He owns the equipment and goes out to farms to spray, fertilize, seed and pollinate. Gibbs performed a demonstration on how the cost-effective drone service works in the apple orchard. He says the market is growing for drones. Rantizo has hired about 30 contractors in the past year and a half. The industry is increasing capabilities quickly, Gibbs says.
Amaya Atucha is a UW-Madison horticulture professor and fruit crop extension specialist. She says the summer drought will impact the size of the apples this year and also the number of blossoms for next year. Growers will also see impact from the late frost Wisconsin saw this spring.
While Wisconsin is not, and likely will not, experience a heat wave like the one happening in the northwestern part of the U.S., climate change is wreaking havoc in other ways. Atucha says extreme flooding, droughts and hail are here to stay. Her department is looking at ways to make orchards more resilient to those new norms.