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Spring weather has been kind (so far)
Fruit numbers m2 are up
The weather has been exceptionally good for the first two months of Spring. I’ve noticed the ground becoming quite dry in places reflecting the lack of rain. Crops, I’ve been visiting, are generally looking in superb condition. Some crops are nearing their final stages before being replaced, however, the quality of the fruit has been very impressive. The young crops are thriving with all of the fantastic sun we have had. Reports from other parts of the country, outside Auckland, indicate the weather has also been above average.
We still have cool night temperatures which is understandable when you have these beautiful sunny spring days. Although, as I write this article, I notice the wind is picking up and the clouds are rolling in. Increasing your fruit numbers per m2 is very important at this time of year, a healthy crop should be increasing its fruit load in relation to the surge in light levels. I have witnessed some very interesting flowering and set speeds in the past three weeks, it appears the plants are growing almost too well if that is possible. However, I don’t think it will be a problem if crops are carrying a few extra fruits per m2 than normal for this time of year but size could marginally drop if the weather turns and light levels/joule counts stall in the coming weeks. Keep an eye out if the weather turns in the next couple of weeks, you may need to consider making slight adjustments. Not so much for crops with their heads removed or close to termination but for young crops that have a potentially long hot summer in front of them. You will notice a couple of indications in your crop registrations, if the leaf length and stem thickness is changing rapidly.
Certain varieties are harder to give direction on than others, as they can react differently to increasing fruit load, some plants will abort fruit and some will keep hanging fruit until they burst. So, I always consider the variety when providing advice on temperature, irrigation, fruit loading and pruning. It is not an exact science but the reports certainly assist decision making and the conversation with the grower becomes much easier. More knowledge at hand is certainly a positive when you have to resolve any issues.
Recently I did come across a crop that presented itself as having, a root health issue. The plant, in my view, had been over-loaded in the winter, the effect of this was evident in the visual appearance of the plant. A few adjustments to winter fruit loading, less stress on the plants and especially the root system would have the plant in a better place now. The effect was a reduction in current fruit size. It was by no means a disaster as the fruit shape and quality of the fruit was perfect. It reiterated the huge importance I place on root health and the need to protect them coming out of the winter and into spring. For that matter all year round.
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Article Written by Stefan Vogrincic, Consultant, Grower2Grower