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The Orchardist - - Or­chard Man­age­ment -

As with ev­ery grow­ing sea­son, the weather was chal­leng­ing and re­quired very good or­chard man­age­ment to get the best out of the crop.

Af­ter a warm, dry, early win­ter, the late win­ter turned cold and wet in Hawke’s

Weeds can be a real prob­lem in young or­chards, so con­sid­er­a­tion needs to be given to us­ing resid­ual her­bi­cides for grow­ing sea­son weed con­trol. There are nu­mer­ous ef­fec­tive resid­ual her­bi­cides. For best re­sults, these need to be ap­plied early in the grow­ing sea­son to bare ground. Most need at least 10 to 15mm of rain within 7 days of ap­pli­ca­tion which is an­other rea­son for ap­ply­ing them early in the grow­ing sea­son when rain is more likely.

Straight af­ter har­vest is a good time to em­bark on some long range plan­ning. Iden­tify poor per­form­ing blocks, an­a­lyse pos­si­ble lim­it­ing fac­tors and de­ter­mine whether or not it is worth­while fix­ing the prob­lem. If not, pull the block out and re­de­velop.

There is a two or three year wait­ing pe­riod with most nurs­ery­man for new trees at the mo­ment, so or­chardists need to be map­ping out their new tree sup­plies three or four years in ad­vance to make sure they can ob­tain the best tree type for their sit­u­a­tion.

Post sup­ply is an­other es­sen­tial in­put where there is scarcity. In­ci­den­tally, with the amount of dodgy quar­ter rounds out there that are li­able to snap at knots, there will be quite keen de­mand for round posts to in­ter­sperse among trel­lis sys­tems com­pris­ing mainly of quar­ter rounds.

The wet soils we now have may make it dif­fi­cult to ob­tain a sat­is­fac­tory soil fu­mi­ga­tion job in re­plant sites. Cor­rect soil mois­ture sta­tus is much more crit­i­cal than soil tem­per­a­tures in our mild win­ter cli­mate for suc­cess­ful soil fu­mi­ga­tion with Chloropi­crin.

Try to pull or­chard blocks des­tined for re­de­vel­op­ment as soon as pos­si­ble, root rake them well and drain them prop­erly be­fore com­menc­ing prepa­ra­tion for re­plant­ing. In a lot of sites it will be nec­es­sary to in­stall sump pumps to en­able the site to be well enough drained for high tree per­for­mance.

The way the rain keeps on com­ing, it may be dif­fi­cult to get the soil into the right con­di­tion for fu­mi­ga­tion this year. Even so, for re­plant ar­eas, soil fu­mi­ga­tion is con­sid­ered es­sen­tial to make sure that the newly planted trees get the best start pos­si­ble. It is also a very small cost rel­a­tive to the to­tal cost of plant­ing a new in­ten­sive or­chard so can be con­sid­ered good in­sur­ance to make sure the trees get a good start.

There are sev­eral al­ter­na­tive treatments for SARD to Chloropi­crin that are less de­mand­ing in re­gard to soil con­di­tion but un­for­tu­nately ev­i­dence of their ef­fec­tive­ness rel­a­tive to Chloropi­crin is rather lack­ing so it is dif­fi­cult to

The soil phys­i­cal as­sess­ment should in­volve ex­am­i­na­tion of soil maps to de­ter­mine the soil type and char­ac­ter­is­tics. De­scrip­tions of the soils give valu­able in­for­ma­tion on their be­hav­iour such as drainage char­ac­ter­is­tics, rot­ting depth, soil mois­ture hold­ing ca­pac­ity, tex­ture and wa­ter in­fil­tra­tion. As the soil maps are fairly ex­ten­sive, there can be con­sid­er­able vari­a­tion across a mapped soil type, par­tic­u­larly on flood plains, so it is nec­es­sary to ground proof the soil map data by dig­ging in­spec­tion pits at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals across a block to view the soil pro­file and check for ev­i­dence of poor drainage and soil vari­a­tion across a block. This is some­thing we are not good at do­ing but if you visit or­chard­ing lo­ca­tions with harsher cli­mates, you will ob­serve con­sid­er­able ef­fort go­ing into pre-plant­ing soil study to de­ter­mine ap­pro­pri­ate soil prepa­ra­tion re­quire­ments.

It is much eas­ier to fix soil lim­it­ing fac­tors such as a lay­ered soil pro­file made up of soils with dif­fer­ent tex­tures be­fore plant­ing than af­ter­wards. Where soils have tex­tu­ral lay­er­ing with sharp bound­ary zones be­tween the lay­ers, move­ment of wa­ter and roots from one layer to the next is of­ten im­peded. This is a com­mon cause of perched wa­ter ta­bles lead­ing to poor tree growth. Mix­ing the soil tex­tu­ral lay­ers to­gether to form a ho­mo­ge­neous soil 50 to 60cm deep will im­prove tree root growth and over­come this type of lim­it­ing fac­tor. In some very tough soils over­seas which have se­ri­ous pans be­low that depth that im­pede drainage and root pen­e­tra­tion, it is not un­com­mon to mix up the soil to an even greater depth with a back hoe along the row. Many of our soils have low or­ganic mat­ter and can be very dense. This sit­u­a­tion im­pedes root growth and can slow canopy devel­op­ment. Where soil or­ganic mat­ter is low it is worth­while con­sid­er­ing cul­ti­vat­ing in some com­post to im­prove the soil struc­ture.

Many soils have im­per­vi­ous lay­ers within root zone depth, as well as com­paction prob­lems, so deep rip­ping across the row di­rec­tion should be part of plant­ing prepa­ra­tion. Once the trees are planted you can­not do this again.

Where pH and nu­tri­ent lev­els are be­low op­ti­mum, par­tic­u­larly in re­gard to phos­pho­rus, mag­ne­sium and cal­cium, pre-plant­ing ap­pli­ca­tions of lime and fer­tiliser fol­lowed by cul­ti­va­tion are a good op­por­tu­nity to in­cor­po­rate these ma­te­ri­als to a greater depth than is pos­si­ble with post plant­ing side dress­ings. In the case of mag­ne­sium which is gen­er­ally in short sup­ply on many of our or­chard soils, it is not a bad idea to ap­ply a cheaper slow re­lease prod­uct such as mag­ne­sium ox­ide rather than the more ex­pen­sive mag­ne­sium sul­phate based Kieserite prod­uct.

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