HARRISBURG, Pa. — Nearly 40 acres of abandoned apple trees in Adams County have been removed this spring to protect nearby commercial orchards from damaging pests and diseases.
Haven for pests
Pennsylvania’s fruit industry is critical to the local and state economies, and growers rank in the top-five nationally in apple, peach and pear production.
“We needed to address growers’ reports of higher pest counts in trees nearest abandoned orchards to ensure productivity and industry growth is not hampered,” said acting Secretary of Agriculture George Greig.
Between March 29 and April 7, 39 acres of abandoned apple orchards on three properties in Menallen and Huntingdon townships, Adams County, were identified and removed.
Abandoned trees can be a breeding ground for insect pests or diseases that may infect nearby active commercial orchards. The Department of Agriculture and Penn State Cooperative Extension and its Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center in Adams County collaborated to identify the plots.
Priority was given to land that posed the greatest threat to active acreage, thus potentially decreasing the use of chemical control of insects or disease.
“This partnership between the department and Penn State was reminiscent of the successful plum pox virus eradication program,” said Greig.
That decade-long program involved a 300-square mile quarantine area and surveillance. The state was declared free of the virus that affects stone fruit production in 2009.