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Extreme Weather Batters New Zealand
Blossom End Rot, Leaf Mould and Pests have increased noticeably
Over the last week the weather has reminded me of past years, when in February we had steaming hot and humid weather for a period of a week or more. This last week was remarkably similar with the addition of Cyclone Dovi. Does anyone remember Cyclone Bola in late February early March 1988? I do, we lost five cows, could not milk, as we had no power, and the farm had trees and fences down in multiple locations.
The South Island has had some ridiculously hot temperatures, one grower reporting greenhouse temperature of 40 degrees for two days in a row, followed by a terribly dull day. Crop registrations have shown an increase in ambient night-time temperatures well over 22 degrees average. Light levels have also been well down, combine this with elevated temperatures it is a recipe for decreasing plant health.
This weather means a large volume of product will be harvested this week; this may have a short-term effect on the market – good for the consumer for the next few weeks. However, like with any storm significant issues for growers will start to accumulate. Roots will be under huge strain, and I can see the plants have lost vigour. Fruit pruning would be high on my agenda to build needed strength back into your plants. This will influence production but unless you have an incredibly young crop – the ongoing effects from the weather will cause issues unless you release the pressure valve.
Some cooler nights recently are welcomed but the days are still extremely hot, and you have no control over the daytime averages. Growers that have diffused coatings will be thankful they have them on this week for sure.
Fungal and Insects:
The wet, humid, and hot weather has been perfect for fungal infections. Noticeably leaf mould, if a variety is susceptible rapid reproduction will occur as in the photo taken on the 14/2 below.
White-fly numbers have also exploded. I have also noticed a sharp increase in caterpillar damage. The weather has created the perfect storm unless you are on top of the situation with your treatments you will quickly find yourself in trouble.
Susceptible varieties will, be prone to Blossom End Rot -BER. Any stress from lack of water, not enough leaf area index or no roof diffusion will contribute to BER. The current conditions will make this even harder to control.
Plants will be growing like triffids, this will place huge pressure on staff maintaining the crops. Growers are already severely short staffed; this extra pressure will just add to what is already an incredibly stressful period.
Article written and compiled by Stefan Vogrincic
All Article’s checked and edited by Marie Vogrincic
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