Peter M Hirst

Facts for Fancy Fruit Editor & Professor of Horticulture
Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture
Area(s) of Interest: Commercial Tree Fruit Production

120 articles by this author

Article List

Registration is now open for Indiana Agricultural Law Foundation’s 2019 Estate and Succession Planning for the Family Farm event in Indianapolis. Family farmers and attorneys are encouraged to attend on Tuesday, July 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Indiana Farm Bureau headquarters to learn about estate and succession planning as it pertains to the long-term future of family farms. The event’s sessions include: Land Value Considerations in Succession Planning with Dr. Jason R. Henderson, Purdue Agricultural Estate Planning Basics with Lindsay Schmitt, Farmer Scott Ozete Robinson & Schmitt LLP Estate Litigation and Competency Issues: How to Avoid Common Pitfalls with Kisti Good Risse and Stuart Boehning, Bennett, Boehning & Clary, LLP Protecting the Family Farm From the Nursing Home and Forced Partition Sales with Dan Gordon, Gordon & Associates FSA Options for Getting New and Beginning Farmers Into the Operation with Greg A. Foulke, Indiana Farm Service Agency The Bad, The Ugly[Read More…]



Indiana Horticultural Society Summer Meeting Co-sponsored by Indiana Vegetable Growers’ Association June 25, 2019 Huber Orchard and Winery, Starlight, IN You are warmly welcomed to join us for the summer meeting of the Indiana Horticultural Society, held in conjunction with the Indiana Vegetable Growers’ Association. It will be held Tuesday June 25 at Huber Orchard and Winery, in Starlight, IN. Huber’s is one of the largest and best agri-tourism destinations in the Midwest. The meeting will focus on commercial production of fruits and vegetables, and farm marketing. All those interested are welcome to attend. HUBER ORCHARD AND WINERY The history of Huber Orchard and Winery began when Simon Huber emigrated from Germany in 1843 and settled in Starlight, Indiana. One branch of the family now operates Huber Orchard and Winery. While farming operations started in 1932, it wasn;t until the 1960s that the transition to direct farm marketing took place.[Read More…]


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News Release- WASHINGTON, May 6, 2019 – USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that organic producers and handlers can apply for federal funds to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic certification through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP). Applications for fiscal 2019 funding are due Oct. 31, 2019. “Producers can visit their local FSA county offices to apply for up to 75 percent of the cost of organic certification,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “This also gives organic producers an opportunity to learn about other valuable USDA resources, like farm loans and conservation assistance, that can help them succeed. Organic producers can take advantage of a variety of USDA programs from help with field buffers to routine operating expenses to storage and handling equipment.” OCCSP received continued support through the 2018 Farm Bill. It provides cost-share assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products for the[Read More…]


USDA Announces Buy-Up Coverage Availability and New Service Fees for Noninsured Crop Coverage Policies Changes apply Beginning April 8, 2019 WASHINGTON, April 8, 2019 – USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced that higher levels of coverage will be offered through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), a popular safety net program, beginning April 8, 2019. The 2018 Farm Bill also increased service fees and made other changes to the program, including service fee waivers for qualified military veterans interested in obtaining NAP coverage. “When other insurance coverage is not an option, NAP is a valuable risk mitigation tool for farmers and ranchers,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “In agriculture, losses from natural disasters are a matter of when, not if, and having a NAP policy provides a little peace of mind.” NAP provides financial assistance to producers of commercial crops for which insurance coverage is not available in[Read More…]


Grape: Full veraison on most varieties

Apple harvest has begun with early varieties still being harvested. A lack of cool nights has delayed red color development but many varieties are still developing acceptable red color. Quality generally looks good.  


PristineTM apple

Although PristineTM was selected in 1982, its history goes back to the early days of the PRI breeding program. From an original cross of Rome Beauty with Malus floribunda 821, selections and hybridizations were made incorporating Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Starking Delicious  and Cazumat along the way. The cross that resulted in PristineTM was Coop 10 x Cazumat made in 1974 at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and PristineTM was selected at the Purdue Hort. Farm in 1982. PristineTM is a very early maturing apple usually ripening in late July in Lafayette. In most seasons it will be a couple of weeks ahead of Gala. It is very attractive with a clean finish. For such an early apple, it has very good eating quality, certainly much better than other very early apples such as Lodi or Transparent. The texture is crisp and flavor has a good acid/sugar balance. If fruit are[Read More…]


ReTain (AVG) is a plant growth regulator that blocks the production of ethylene. When ReTain is applied to apple, several ripening processes are slowed, including preharvest drop, fruit flesh softening, starch disappearance, and red color formation. In order for ReTain to be effective it must be applied well in advance of the climacteric rise in ethylene production that signals the onset of fruit maturity. If applied too early the effects may wear off prematurely. If applied too late, a significant portion of the crop may not be responsive to AVG, having already begun to produce autocatalytic ethylene. A second reason for avoiding late applications of ReTain is the 21 day preharvest interval (PHI), which, combined with a late spray date could result in an undesirable delay in harvest. The label recommends applying ReTain four weeks before anticipated harvest (WBH). This has sometimes caused confusion, as the grower is timing the[Read More…]


Preharvest drop refers to the process where fruit fall from the tree prior to harvest. Not all apple varieties are affected, but with some, such as McIntosh and Pristine, pre-harvest drop can be extreme. Several growth regulator materials are available to growers to help reduce pre-harvest drop. These materials are often referred to as “stop-drop” or “sticker” sprays. The traditional material used to help prevent pre-harvest drop on apples is NAA (Fruitone N), a synthetic auxin. Other synthetic auxins you may have heard of include 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T.  Of course you also know Fruitone N as a chemical thinner.  Early in the season NAA knocks fruit off the tree and later towards harvest it sticks them on.  This highlights the importance of timing when using plant growth regulators. Another newer stop drop material is ReTain (see articles by Schupp and Schwallier in this issue). Although both NAA and ReTain can[Read More…]


grapes turning color

Early grapes are just beginning to soften and color (veraison). Summer raspberry harvest if winding down and fall bearing types are flowering. Blueberry harvest continues. Japanese beetle numbers continue to be relatively high in the Lafayette area. Peach harvest (for those fortunate to have a crop) has begun. Early apple cultivars are approaching harvest.