Recommendations for Storm Preparation - Hurricane Lee

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

This update includes suggestions to prepare for possible high wind gusts this weekend. I'm crossing my fingers that we do not see damaging winds. Hopefully this is all in the name of being over-prepared!

Prepare Young Trees and Nurseries

  • Tie young trees and nursery trees with rubber tree tie. Max tape does not hold up to high winds. Tie with rubber ties as soon as trees get to the top of the stake in the nursery to be prepared for high winds. 
  • Check on support for trees that are known to be brittle at the union, including many of the new Geneva rootstocks (G.11, G.41, G.16 etc).

Prepare Mature Plantings

  • Pick fruit from trees with a heavy crop load if desired to lighten the load on trellis systems that are already exhibiting strain. However, a lot of varieties are not yet ready for harvest. If there is good colour in the tops of Honeycrisp trees, check their maturity and it may be possible to harvest a spot pick on tree tops.
  • Speak with your packer as they may have a preferred way to handle fruit prior to the storm… for example, they may suggest stripping the trees of fruit for varieties that are ready for harvest and have a processing market. Don’t assume this is the case though. It could be variety specific.
  • Old, weak, end-posts on trellises could be shored up if possible. Focus on improving supports for trellised high-density orchard. The old, unsupported, dwarf and semi-dwarf trees appear to tolerate high winds better than trellised orchard in some situations.
  • A preharvest fungicide like Pristine/Merivon could be applied before or after the storm depending on your priorities.
    • Preharvest fungicide is your only protection in storage so having residue on the fruit is desirable. Based on local reports, the residue and associated benefits in storage may last if the products are applied up to two weeks before harvest. Pristine/Merivon ingredients are locally systemic so they are absorbed by tissues on which they are sprayed. The products are rapidly absorbed into plant tissue if allowed to dry. Theoretically the products should have a benefit in storage if applied before the storm.
    • You may have other priorities before the storm. Spraying after the storm would ensure that residue is present for storage. But waiting runs the risk of the laneway being obstructed for spraying or crews not having time to spray.
    • Apply the preharvest fungicide if possible whether it is before or after the storm.

After the Storm

  • Be prepared to brace weakened trellis systems where a breach has the potential to weaken entire rows.
  • Have generators and fuel available to support cold storage in case of power outages.
  • If applicable, contact crop insurance soon after you observe damage.
  • Treat nonbearing orchards exhibiting tissue damage with streptomycin within 24 hours of injury to prevent fire blight trauma infections. More information in Q&A below.

Figure 1: Weakened trellis system with a heavy crop load was braced after hurricane Fiona in fall of 2022.

Fire Blight Q&A:

What's the bacterial risk? High.
This year there is plenty of fire blight bacteria established in infections throughout the Valley. A rotating storm system with wind and rain moves bacteria around and between orchards with the potential to spread infections to new blocks.

It's late in the season so are trauma infections still a concern? Yes.
Remember, bacteria can still be delivered to wounds in cool temperatures. Temperature matters for blossom blight risk because bacteria rely on heat to grow on the floral stigma. For trauma blight, the source of the bacteria is active infections that already have excessive bacterial populations contained in ooze. Trauma events are always cause for concern because bacteria are transported from active infections to open wounds.

Should I use Streptomycin preventatively before the storm? No.
Streptomycin should NOT be used as a preventative treatment in the case of a tropical storm and should be saved for post-infection activity. If applied before trauma, streptomycin can be washed off leaves, degraded by sunlight, and will not provide protective activity if bacteria are moved in from outside your own orchard.

When should I use streptomycin?
Have streptomycin available to treat nonbearing orchards exhibiting tissue damage within 24 hours of injury to foliage or limbs. Note the preharvest interval of 50 days for apples and 30 days for pears.

Can I use Kasumin instead of streptomycin? No.
Do not rely on Kasumin for a trauma event because this antibiotic is not systemic and will only kill cells on the surface of leaves and shoots. Meaning, any bacteria that moves into tissues will not be affected by Kasumin or copper.

Other Recommendations

  • The best thing to do is to get ready before the hurricane is even forecasted by season-long maintenance. 
  • Check culverts and ditches to make sure they are not collapsed or blocked.
  • Store or secure items that could become wind-borne.
  • We cannot compare Lee's potential impact with the outcomes seen during Elsa and Fiona. The storms are unique with different direction, rainfall amounts, and wind speeds. And the weakest trellis systems were already tested recently in the previous two storms.
  • If you wish to monitor Valley-wide wind gusts and rainfall accumulation on a map, visit and from the panel called 'Layer' select 'Storm Rain' or under 'Extremes' select 'high' and 'wind gust'.
  • The province recently submitted a news release stating that AgriStability is still available to the Ag sector with late application up until Dec 31, 2023. Here is a link to the full release:
  • We have had no shortage of difficult growing conditions but I hope that you are proud of the good work you have done on everything that you can control.
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed and need to talk to someone please know that everyone has access to the Farm Family Support Centre and other resources through We Talk We Grow.

This Orchard Outlook resource has been published with the input of the Orchard Outlook Committee including this week's contributors: Larry Lutz, Keith Fuller, Harrison Wright, Bob Prange, Joan Hebb and Danny Davison.

Perennia Food and Agriculture Corp.
Edited by Michelle Cortens, Tree Fruit Specialist

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