Tour organized by Chris Walsh, Kathy Hunt & Susan Barnes of the University of Maryland
Reported by Carol Allen, University of Maryland


If you missed the 2019 summer tour, you missed a day of fun, education, and camaraderie. Though hot, the erratic summer weather cooperated and the participants enjoyed bright blue skies. We started our day with three lectures held at the Virginia Tech Alson H. Smith Jr. Agricultural and Research Extension Center. Over coffee, bagels, and fruit (thanks to Page Hargett of Farm Credit, again!), we listened to Chris Bergh, Professor of Entomology, give an update on the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) population and biocontrol. While local populations have declined, other parts of the country still see heavy predation by BMSB in orchards.


Dr. Bergh and his team worked with the parasitoid, Trissolcus japonicus in both lab and field trials. T. japonicus lays its eggs in the eggs of the BMSB preventing hatch of the pest. Of particular interest was the field work done in stands of tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) determining the canopy range of both BMSB and T. japonicus activity.


Keith Yoder, Emeritus Professor of Plant Pathology, brought us up to date on his work looking at the association of Tomato Ringspot Virus (ToRSV) and the incidence of incompatibility between Geneva root stocks and various scion wood. His trials are planted in non-fumigated soils where the dagger nematode (Xiphinema americanum) is known to exist. Populations of ToRSV are believed to survive in weeds such as dandelion (Taraxacum spp.) and are vectored by the dagger nematode into the susceptible rootstock, resulting in damaging necrosis.

We then adjourned to the top of the hill and listened to Tremain Hatch, Viticulture Research Technician, speak on the progress of their grape trials. They have been working with the technique of leaf pulling to moderate the amount of sun exposure to the fruit. This increased sunlight improves red color development, concentrates sugar production, and prevents ripe rots. In another section of vines, plastic was used as a rain shield and yet still allow for sun exposure. Again this is in an effort to minimize ripe rot.


Woodbine Orchards was our next stop. There we were treated to a wagon tour of the orchards hosted by Carol Swanson and Mike Smith, orchard manager. Of particular interest was the incidence of tree failure due to graft incompatibility. Chris Walsh and Bill Mackintosh (Macintosh Fruit Farm) spoke on the general brittleness of Geneva rootstocks and the incidence of loss simply due to wind. This incompatibility of scions to Geneva rootstock was found to vary depending on the variety used. One tree in particular was examined. This was a Crips Pink grafted on to a G41 root stock. From the picture it can be noted only a small portion of living wood remained.


As we toured the acres of fruit crops the subject of deer management was discussed. Currently Woodbine Orchards is using a variety of detergents, soaps and/or Milorganite hung in bags at the head of each row. Their conclusion was that the only effective deer repellent seemed to be proximity to a highway.


Box lunches were served at West Oaks Farm Market in an outdoor pavilion situated at the crest of a rise. Though the day was warm, the positioning of the structure allowed for natural ventilation and beautiful views of the hills and fields.  Levi & Joe Snapp spoke a bit about the pavilion being part of a complex of newer structures they have built on this Century Farm. West Oaks Farm has been in the same family for ten generations and dates back to 1752!  Though they have an impressive history, this generation has embraced diversity and highlights not only the spacious outdoor pavilion, but also a large indoor wedding/meeting venue and an impressive farm market. The market features a wide range of local products including meats, produce, and alpaca fiber products.  They bake on site, as well as have grilling and cooking facilities providing a wide selection of menu options.


Levi & Joe also talked about their success with pick-your-own strawberries and their plans for PYO apples. We had gathered next to a beautiful young orchard that should be ready to harvest in the next growing season or so. There are acres of mature apple trees that are harvested for their two farm markets as well as for wholesale. PYO pumpkins will complete the season for what is evolving as a destination family venue. There are also plans for a six-acre corn maze that Levi estimates will take a customer over an hour to complete. With this farm moving to more PYO produce, the challenges of dealing with in field marketing and cashier placement issues were discussed. The concept of a pre-paid box was favored as it would reduce the need for as many in-field cashiers and better control over product shrinkage.


Some of the group then ventured on to Arterra Wines in Delaplane, VA. A tour of the vineyard with wine tasting after was offered by owner Jason Murray. Arterra (Art of the Land) offers niche market wines, fermented using natural yeast in small batches. No chemicals are used to manipulate the natural flavors of the wines produced. During the tour of the vineyard, Jason described the soil types in his two growing areas and how growing for a non-chemical fermentation challenges the grower. For instance, no fungicide sprays are used 3 – 4 months before harvest. Fungicide residue would kill the naturally occurring yeasts.


Some of the wines featured (and tasted) were:


2018 Roussanne

2017 Chardonnay

2018 Rose'



2016 Cabernet Franc

2016 Petit Verdot

2016 Tannat



Blueberry apple wine

Apple wine


The Tannat was described by connoisseurs to be both a wine that is favored by the growing conditions of the area and one that Arterra does exceptionally well. The attending fruit growers were pleased to see an offering of two fruit wines. This provided a sweet ending to a very informative and enjoyable day.





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

Vineyard at  Virginia Tech Alson H. Smith Jr. Agricultural and Research Extension Center. Section of grape of vines with plastic was used as a rain shield and yet still allow for sun exposure. This effort was to minimize ripe rot.

Crisps Pink grafted on to a G41 root stock suffered  failure due to graft incompatibility.

Woodbine Orchards is currently using a variety of detergents, soaps, and/or Milorganite hung in bags at the head of each row to manage deer.

West Oaks farm Market

Jason Murray owner of Arterra Wines shares his experieance about his vineyard and winery.

Summer Tour Gallery

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