Most positive influence on orchard performance
- Biggest positive influence is pruning. Regular structured pruning to maintain light and progressing bring height down has been beneficial. As well as timely management and putting the work in.
Most negative influence on orchard performance
- Wind is the biggest negative from the North East. Many damaging to pack out but occasionally knocks fruit off as well.
- Pollination, pruning and fertiliser planning and pest monitoring is contracted out. Remainder of work is completed by owners.
Have replanted some areas with Dusa rootstock but they have struggled to establish for some reason.
- Tree spaced 10m X 10m
- Managed as individual
- Max height of trees is 8m but working to get down to 6m
- Light interception is the main priority when pruning followed by structural tree balance, management of crop load, increasing access for picking and spraying and removal of dead or diseased material.
- Trees are structurally pruned once a year with larger cuts made in autumn depending on crop remaining on trees. About 25% of the canopy is removed each year.
- Flower pruning has been used on excessively flowering trees in the last two years and really happy with the result. Fruit thinning hasn’t been down but considering in future if needed.
Soil and soil moisture management
- Orchard is predominately sandy loam.
- Grass is the dominant ground cover under trees with some avocado pruning making up the mulch. 210 m3 of mulch was brought last year and placed in rings around trees to try improve mulch layer.
- Soil moisture is monitored using tensiometers. Tensiometer readings of -16kPa at 30cm probe which is used as trigger for irrigation in summer.
- The orchard is 100% irrigated micro sprinklers mounted on galvanised poles in middle of canopy.
- At peak summer it is common to irrigate for 7 hours per irrigation event once a week using sprinklers with a 8m diameter that deliver 130l/hr (18.1mm per irrigation event).
- Sprinkler heads that distribute different volumes over different area are chosen based on tree size and age.
- The condition of pipe work and control valves has been checked in the last year for proper function. Sprinklers heads are monitored regularly.
- Pollinizer species include Bacon, Ettinger and Zutano at a percentage of 1-5%
- Honey bee hives are brought onto the orchard at about 15% flowering at a rate of 5-7 hives per hectare. Hives are located near small trees and pollinisers in the morning sun. Four bumble bee hives are used in some years when pay out looking promising and very pleased with result.
Soil and fertiliser application
- Soil and leaf tests are carried out once a year in April.
- A consultant provides a fertiliser plan based on test results and crop loading.
- The majority of fertiliser is applied as ground application by hand but and seaweed product mixed in with all sprays.
- Boron fertilisers are applied as ground application every year.
- Lime and Gypsum (Calcium) fertiliser is applied every year.
- Fertiliser in some form is applied 12 times a year.
- Cryptomeria trees make up all the shelters and are about 8m high on most boundaries except the North East where they are a little higher.
Tree health management
- Trees have injected with phosphonate twice a year. Root testing of phosphonate levels are carried out each year.
- No frost protection system is used in the orchard.