The Orchardist - - Orchard Management - John Wil­ton is a de­cid­u­ous fruit spe­cial­ist with AgFirst.

Fig 4. Bunchy crops need to be thinned early. Leav­ing them un­til sum­mer leads to a dif­fi­cult thin­ning job and lots of sun­burn. If left un­thinned colour de­vel­op­ment and fruit size will be poor and fruit siz­ing will push fruit out of the bunch lead­ing to fur­ther dam­age lower in the tree from fall­ing fruit. This par­tic­u­lar branch was above thin­ner and spray cov­er­age level, so has black spot as well. Un­der a ma­ture canopy this tree should have been topped in early sum­mer to re­move this prob­lem.

This data­base is New Zealand wide, but pre­dom­i­nantly Hawke’s Bay blocks. Av­er­age yields rep­re­sent the true av­er­age of the data­base, how­ever, as the data is com­piled on an an­nual ba­sis the up­per quar­tile may have been in­flu­enced by bi­en­nial bear­ing in some va­ri­eties in that “on” crop blocks will tend to pop­u­late the up­per quar­tile data in their big crop years.So if the data was av­er­aged over two con­sec­u­tive years for each block the dif­fer­ence be­tween up­per quar­tile and av­er­age may be a lit­tle less than this data shows. Even so, in re­cent years we have done a good job in bring­ing bi­en­nial bear­ing un­der con­trol, so it prob­a­bly only has a mi­nor af­fect on the up­per quar­tile data these days.

The data­base shows that there are many or­chard blocks which con­sis­tently achieve up­per quar­tile per­for­mance.

For most va­ri­eties, pack­outs and fruit size are sim­i­lar for av­er­age and the up­per quar­tile group. In some va­ri­eties, up­per quar­tile pack­out is bet­ter than av­er­age.

Where does your or­chard block per­for­mance lie rel­a­tive to this data?

The data­base shows that once full canopy is reached, plant­ing den­si­ties only have mi­nor, if any, in­flu­ence on yields or qual­ity. The key fac­tor is pas­sion for the crop and at­ten­tion to de­tail in crop hus­bandry.

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