Most positive influence on orchard performance
- Given up other job so full time focused on orchard which has resulted in much more timely actions like fertiliser applications, pruning etc. Pruning has had a very positive influence on orchard with aim to get growth and production along the length of limbs and in middle of tree and light still getting onto ground underneath. Trying to give each limb enough space so they get adequate light without competing for it.
- Low location of orchard also helps with temperature.
Most negative influence on orchard performance
- Biggest challenge is getting the fruit off as early as would like to benefit trees.
- Pollination, pruning and fertiliser planning, pest monitoring and spraying is contracted out. Remainder of work is completed by owners.
- Tree spaced 9m X 9m and 6m x 6m
- Managed as individual trees
- Max height of trees is 5m – 6m
- Light interceptions is the priority when pruning followed by management of crop load, increasing access for picking and spraying, removal of dead or diseased material and structural tree balance.
- Trees are structurally pruned twice a year with larger cuts made in spring and tidy up cuts made in autumn. Limbs are selectively removed to generate productive/replacement wood and maintain light onto these limbs. Also to ensure good light distribution through the entire canopy. About 40% of the canopy is removed each year.
- Flower pruning is used on excessively flowering trees with follow up fruit removal carried out if deemed appropriate.
Soil and soil moisture management
- Orchard is predominately sandy loam.
- Leaf litter, avocado pruning and grass are the dominant ground cover under the trees.
- Soil moisture is monitored using tensiometer at 30cm and 60cm deep. Readings of -20kPa to -30kPa for 30cm tensiometer are used as trigger for irrigation.
- Half the orchard is irrigated with in-canopy micro sprinklers.
- At peak summer it is common to irrigate for 24 hours per irrigation once every two weeks using sprinklers with an 8m diameter that deliver 120l/hr (57.3mm per irrigation event).
- Sprinkler heads do not vary between trees.
- In the last year the condition of pipe work has been checked along with control valves and calibration of sprinkler heads.
- Polliniser species include Bacon, Ettinger, and Zutano at a percentage of 7-10%
- Hives are brought onto the orchard at about 10 – 20% flowering at a rate of 5-7 hives per hectare. Hives are located in warm sheltered and sunny positions.
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 by ground application but foliar application is also used.
- Boron fertilisers are applied as a foliar spray every year.
- Lime and Gypsum (Calcium) fertiliser is applied every year
- Fertiliser in some form is applied 11 times a year.
- The northern half of the orchard has no internal shelter but is quite narrow running North-South. The southern half is a bit wider and has internal shelters breaking it into 4 blocks. Trees make up all the shelter with a height of 5-6m
Tree health management
- Trees are injected once a year with phosphonate and root testing of phosphonate levels is not carried out. All trees are injected in autumn.
- No frost protection system is in place in the orchard.