We are committed to limiting the use of pesticides, conserving energy and water, protecting soil, preserving our land and bringing you safe, fresh produce.
Integrated Pest Management
Because we live, work and eat in the orchard every day, we think carefully about ways to protect our fruit from pests while also protecting our customers’ health and our own.
Are We Organic?
We are not organic; the wet and humid conditions of the Mid-Atlantic region produce twice as many problem diseases as in Western states and at least 60 species of damaging insects. Although our climate produces some of the best-tasting fruits and veggies around, it is quite difficult and expensive to control pests and diseases through organic methods.
Instead, we practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a holistic and environmentally sensitive approach to pest and disease control that focuses on long-term prevention of pests by managing the ecosystem and limiting pesticide use. After all, we are just as concerned about our effect on the environment and the safety of our food as you are!
Some of our practices include:
- Monitoring insect populations through scouting and traps to determine when control is necessary.
- Disrupting insect mating through Pheromone ties and puffers that release insect sex hormones. Placed throughout the orchard, these make it difficult for male insects to find and mate with females, thus limiting the need for chemical applications.
- Rotating crops to naturally enhance soil nutrients, control weeds and limit carryover pests and plant diseases.
- Planting disease-resistant varieties such as GoldRush and Crimsoncrisp, which require minimal crop protection applications.
- Using proper sanitation, such as removing diseased wood, plants and fruit and veggies from the field to limit the spread of fungal and bacterial diseases.
- Opting for organic chemicals when available. For instance, for pears, we may use Kaolin, a clay material that forms a powdery film on the fruit, making it unattractive to insects.
- Choosing low-toxicity chemicals. When it is necessary to spray, we use pesticides that are targeted to a specific insect while being safe for beneficial insects.
We abide by the FDA’s “Guide to Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables,” which advises farmers about how to grow, sort, harvest, pack and transport fresh fruits and vegetables safely.
What about GMOs?
We do not grow any GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) crops. We’ve been listening closely to the ongoing debate about the benefits and concerns of GMOs but see no need to consider growing any GMOs at this time.
Energy, Water and Soil Conservation
Kuhn Orchards shares your concerns about the environment and conserves environmental resources by:
- Maintaining forested buffers along all creeks and waterways to capture nutrient runoff.
- Planting wildflower borders around orchard blocks to encourage diverse native pollinators.
- Using drip irrigation to conserve water.
- Testing soil and leaves annually to avoid overusing fertilizers.
- Planting cover crops–thick stands of grass–between tree rows to prevent soil erosion and nutrient loss.
- Protecting pollinators by limiting the use of harmful chemicals. When crop protection is necessary, we spray at night, when pollinators are not active.
- Reducing our total fertilizer application by 50% through the use of liquid fertilizer instead of dry fertilizer.
- Using windbreaks—strategically placed rows of trees and shrubs—to improve air quality.
- Installing new energy efficient lighting and heating systems in our buildings.
- Recycling all used motor oil from our farm equipment.
Since 2006, we have been enrolled in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Conservation Security Program,” which identifies and rewards farmers who meet the highest conservation and environmental management standards.
In 2014, our farm was even recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, for our outstanding conservation practices.
Over half of our 300 acres has been permanently preserved.
One hundred fifty acres are protected through conservation easements to the Adams County Agricultural Land Preservation Program and the Land Conservacy of Adams County. These easements recognize the ecological value of our land and protect it from future residential development.
Another 40 acres are protected through the USDA’s “Wetland Reserve Program.” Since we enrolled in the Wetlands reserve program in 2009, we have been returning the pasture to its former wetland habitat.