Most positive influence on orchard performance
- Getting a good fertiliser advisor has been good as since we changed production has improved. Irrigation and flower pruning is also a great benefit to the orchard as is the poplar shelter as pack out is generally very good. Do all own spraying and believe having a sprayer specifically setup for orchard is beneficial.
Most negative influence on orchard performance
- No obvious negative but property had very low nutrient status when established and has required significant inputs to get to a good state.
- Pollination, pruning and fertiliser planning is contracted out. Remainder of work is completed by owners.
- Taken a biological approach where possible using organic fertilisers to apply recommendations if possible. Regular fertigation with fish hydrolysate. Compost teas also used to promote fungi and applying sheep pellets to sicker trees which seems to be helping.
- Tree spaced 10m X 10m
- Managed as individual
- Max height of trees is 8m
- 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 27% of the canopy is removed each year.
- Flower pruning is used on excessively flowering trees and fruit thinning is also used if trees still look stressed in summer.
Soil and soil moisture management
- Orchard is predominately sandy loam.
- Leaf litter or mulch is the dominant ground cover under trees, avocado pruning making up the mulch.
- Soil moisture is monitored using tensiometers. Tensiometer readings of -30 to -40kPa for 15-30cm probe which is used as trigger for irrigation in summer and autumn. 30-60cm tensiometer used to gauge when to stop irrigation.
- The orchard is 100% irrigated with ground based sprinkler.
- 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 7-10%
- Hives are brought onto the orchard at about 5 – 10% flowering at a rate of 5-7 hives per hectare. Hives are located near small trees and pollinisers in the morning sun.
Soil and fertiliser application
- Soil and leaf tests are carried out once a year in May.
- 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 fertigation and foliar application is also used.
- Boron fertilisers are applied as ground application and foliar every year.
- Lime and Gypsum (Calcium) fertiliser is applied every year.
- Fertiliser in some form is applied 20 times a year.
- Poplar trees are now 25-30m high and provide great shelter to avocado trees, filtering the wind rather than blocking it.
Tree health management
- Trees have foliar application of phosphonate 2-3 times a year. Root testing of phosphonate levels are not carried out.
- No frost protection system is in place in the orchard.