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TUESDAY, JULY 10, 2018


The MSHS Summer Orchard
Tour – A Day in Biglerville
(Adams County), Pennsylvania


By: Chris Walsh and Kathy Hunt

Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture University of Maryland

The 2018 MSHS summer tour was held in Adams County, Pennsylvania on Tuesday July 10.  This tour was organized by Bob Black, Wade Butler and Susan Barnes, and attracted 45 members and guests.

In the morning, we toured two well-managed family farm operations in Biglerville: Hollabaugh’s Orchard and McCleaf’s Orchard.  Coffee and donuts were provided for attendees at Hollabaugh’s by Paige Hargett of

Farm Credit.  The tour began by introductions and an overview in the Bee Room with Kay Hollabaugh.  The Bee Room is an innovative idea used as a classroom for educating tour groups. Kay discussed the various roles of family membersin this multi-generation farm, and the value of having a well-designed market.  That market now accounts for more than 40 percent of their farm sales.  When asked about surprises, Kay mentioned two things: the unexpected sales by their scratch bakery and the value of an air-conditioned market for increasing sales and keeping customers and workers happy.

After the talk indoors, the group walked to an intensive orchard at Hollabaugh’s and then continued on foot to McCleaf’s Orchard.  During the walking tour through both orchards, the group saw a lot of fireblight damage to tall-spindle apple plantings caused by an earlier hail storm.  Although both growers had sprayed for blight following that hail, the trees had severe symptoms of shoot blight.  Fire blight strikes were continuing later into summer than expected, likely due this year’s cool, wet weather in June.  Both growers expected to push some of these intensive blocks out at the end of the growing season.  They felt “the trees were dead; they just don’t know it yet.”

As we walked through Hollabaugh Orchard we saw a large blueberry field covered with bird netting and two asparagus plantings.  Asparagus has done well at Hollabaugh’s.  Kay highlighted its productivity and storageability.  She felt these qualities translated into greater sales in their farm market.

At that point, we crossed into McCleaf’s Orchard where Cory McCleaf showed off a number of unusual crops.  Since he sends trucks to a number of farmers markets in the region, he grows a diverse blend of fruits and vegetables. In addition to well managed fruit trees in the field we saw:

  • High tunnel production of cherries on Gisela rootstocks

  • Protected cultivation of ginger

  • Field production of summer squash and onions

  • Trellised hardy kiwi berries

Since it was getting quite a bit warmer and lunch was waiting we drove about a mile down the road to the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center (FREC) in downtown Biglerville.

FREC was celebrating the 100-year anniversary of their fruit laboratory in Adams County.  While we were touring orchards, there was a program at FREC that featured several talks by:

  • Dr. Jim Schupp, Director, Fruit Research and Extension Center

  • Dr. Gary Thompson, Associate Dean, Research & Graduate Education, College of Agricultural Sciences

  • Provost Nick Jones, Executive Vice President and Provost, Pennsylvania State University

  • Secretary Russ Redding, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

  • Mr. Chris Baugher, President, State Horticulture Association of PA


Penn State graciously allowed MSHS President Wade Butler to also make a few remarks.  He highlighted the value that FREC brings to Maryland growers, and the long-term interstate collaborations on research and extension programs.  These range from twilight grower meetings to working with SHAP at Hershey.  Following that ceremony, we all enjoyed a chicken dinner under the tent. 


Attendees from Maryland then listened to the afternoon educational programs put on by Penn State faculty and graduate students.  These consisted of two major stops; one with speakers from horticulture and agricultural engineering and the other featuring faculty in plant protection.  Since it was a hot day, folks were happy to return from these tours to the air conditioning inside FREC and take time to look over posters describing additional fruit research at the center.


The day’s activities at FREC ended at about 4 pm. The blend of grower insights in the morning and research programs in the afternoon gave a nice flavor to the day.  Speaking for all of us, I would like to thank Bob Black, Wade Butler and Susan Barnes for organizing the tour and Kay and Cory and their families for their time and insights.  Lastly we would like to thank the faculty, graduate students and staff at FREC for their efforts and the research they shared.

Tree Assistance Program (TAP)

Tree Assistance Program (TAP) is to provide financial assistance to qualifying orchardists to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes, and vines that were damaged by natural disasters. To learn more about this program and eligibility, click button below.

Summer Tour Gallery

This program was sponsored by Maryland State Horticultural Society, University of Maryland Extension, and University of Maryland - College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit

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