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Tips On Choosing Fruit Trees

There are hundreds of different fruits to choose from, and we offer most of our trees on a choice of rootstocks. Given all of this variety, how do you choose? Some people prefer to just jump right in and choose what strikes their fancy, and for folks with some gardening experience this works just fine. Others prefer a more methodical approach. Start by doing your research locally – have a look around and see what‘s already growing in your area. Talk to your neighbors & county agricultural extension to find out what does well in your area. Pay attention to your site, the patterns of sun, wind & frosts. Look for the microclimates, cold spots, hot spots and sheltered areas.

Find out what condition has the most limiting effect on fruit growing in your area, and keep this in mind when choosing. In northern regions it may be extreme winter cold, while some southern areas do not get enough chill for certain fruits such as cherries & filberts. In some areas Spring frosts may damage blossoms and reduce fruit set certain years. Once you‘ve determined your limiting factor(s) you can make choices accordingly. Choose hardy varieties for extreme cold, low chill varieties for southern climates, disease resistant varieties for cool, damp climates etc. Make the most of your site and climate. Extended rain & fog in coastal areas contribute to disease problems in tree fruit, but is ideal for berries. Choose plums and early to mid-season disease resistant apples for coastal areas, avoid the late season fruit that may not get enough time to ripen. Here's what you need to consider when buying fruit trees: Rootstock Selection Determines Tree Size and Spacing Climate Zones Pollination Chilling Requirements How Many Trees Should I Plant? Ripening Times

Rootstock Selection Determines Tree Size and Spacing

The rootstock is the lower portion of the tree that you don‘t see. Rootstock selection and pruning determine the size of a tree. If you have limited space, choose a dwarf or semi-dwarf rootstock and keep it well pruned. If you want a tree to hang a hammock on, or to use as windbreak or shade, go for a semi-standard or standard. Climate Zones

which you can familiarize yourself with through observation. Now the entire country has been classified using this system. By learning your climate zone you can gain a lot of useful information such as average minimum temperature. because they remain frost-free much longer than valley floors. Pay attention to the way the sun travels across your property throughout the season. Until relatively recently Sunset zones were available only for the western US. which may vary from what a climate zone tells you. Most written advice (this catalogue included) will be conservative by necessity. aspect & local weather. Don‘t be afraid to experiment and try something new. Use the information in this catalogue to make educated choices and avoid varieties that are obviously not suited to your climate. If you have a small backyard plot you may not have many microclimates. slope. and your site the actual territory. Climate zones do not account for your slope. not an absolute. taking into account factors such as frost-free days. there is more to growing conditions than minimum annual temperatures. wind and water. warm spots and frost pockets. If you are in a warm . Microclimates . prevailing winds. we classify varieties using two climate zone systems– the USDA climate zones & the Sunset Gardening climate zones. These all add up to your local microclimate. Use the climate zone as a guideline. Climate zones describe the macroclimate or general characteristics of your area. A maximum-minimum thermometer placed at different locations will tell you a lot about your microclimates. In fact. Slope – Bear in mind that cold air moves like water.There are two aspects to consider for climate – what is the general climate of your area. but if you have a parcel with some slope and differing vegetation you‘re likely to have several. Look for cold spots and hot spots.Making the Most of Your Location Microclimates are small pockets of climate variations that differ from the surrounding climate. Once you identify your microclimates you can use them to your advantage when planting fruit trees Macroclimate Wherever possible. which may be subjected to hard frosts. Here are a few other things to look for. and what are the specific characteristics of your piece of property. Ultimately the only way to know how a fruit will produce on a specific site is to plant it there. The specific characteristics of your property are your microclimates . weather patterns and number of growing days. humidity. aspect. By identifying and using microclimates you can grow fruit not normally recommended for your climate zone. some slopes are called banana belts. Microclimates are determined by soil. However. elevation & regional weather patterns. they account only for the minimum average annual temperature so they are used to rate a plant‘s cold-hardiness. and we highly recommend utilizing it. effects of ocean. so in spring and fall a valley floor will usually be significantly colder than a slope. Don‘t be afraid to experiment – Keep in mind that a climate zone is the map. Most gardeners are familiar with the USDA zones. Sunset Gardening has developed a different system of climate zones that is far more informative.

htm . lattice fences and screens allow some wind to pass through without creating turbulence. A stone or brick wall can be an ideal place for ripening a late fruit crop. more intense afternoon sunshine. Wind – Strong wind can desiccate plants.A south-facing slope is. make the best use of slopes when available. Most of the varieties in this catalogue are presented in order of ripening. A south facing wall is a good place to plant a tree that needs extra heat in order to ripen. canning or drying then you will want to plan accordingly Ripening Times – Spread Your Harvest Through the Year By choosing varieties that ripen over a long period of time you can enjoy fresh fruit for most of the year. You can spread your harvest throughout the season so that your fruit does not ripen all at once. If you are in a cold climate and are concerned about frost damage. Pollination Most fruit trees require pollination to produce fruit. Some of the fruit will be culls and a lot of weight is lost when processing fruits. Don‘t be intimidated by the quantities. Hedges. and a cold sink in spring and winter. Translucent jugs of water placed in a greenhouse or around fruit trees will re-radiate heat at night. A small pond will serve as a heat sink in the summer and fall. drying and freezing. If you intend to preserve your fruit by juicing. others require pollen from another tree (self-sterile). on how much fruit your family consumes. The ―At a Glance‖ tables in the catalogue and on the website tell you how much fruit you can expect to harvest from each variety on different rootstocks. Watering before an anticipated frost will increase re-radiated heat – the wet soil will absorb more heat than dry soil during the day. from early to late. of course. Some trees are capable of pollinating themselves (self-fertile).com/choosing-fruit-trees. If the wall has an overhang. damage fruit and decrease air temperatures. vines. Western slopes receive the hotter. http://www. Thermal mass – Water and stone will absorb heat during the day and re-radiate it at night. much warmer than a north-facing slope. And don‘t forget canning. plant in low spots when possible. it will also provide some frost protection. The best windbreak is one that slows wind down rather than stopping it. especially here in the west. of course. Some varieties are good keepers and will provide you with fresh fruit well into the winter. Aspect . As a rule of thumb.sandybarnursery. How Many Trees Should I Plant? The number of trees you plant will depend. Wind protection can be especially important in coastal or desert regions. and release more at night.climate and are concerned about not having enough chill. pollenizers should be no more than 50 feet apart from one another. while eastern slopes receive the less intense morning sun.

Prior to planting. can create an environment that the tree roots never venture out of. Generally.e. where most active root growth will occur. when required. The best amendments are low bulk sources of minerals. though dormant. Caring For Bare Root Fruit Trees CARE BEFORE PLANTING SITE SELECTION DIGGING THE HOLE PRUNING & PLANTING CARE OF YOUNG TREES CARE BEFORE PLANTING Realize that all bareroot stock. DIGGING THE HOLE The old rule of thumb is to dig a ten dollar hole for a one dollar tree. sometimes benefit from a colder site. potting mix or aged sawdust (avoid fresh sawdust or wood shavings as they may contain compounds that inhibit root formation). Trees can be kept like this for several weeks if necessary. drains away from slopes and ridges. exposure and moisture. This will afford them a good long drink to compensate for any moisture loss in storage and shipping. Mix these with the topsoil. is also in a state of shock. such as manure or compost. Cold air. trees such as Apricots. They have been dug up from the field with an inevitable loss of roots. and need special care even before planting. which may cause damaging spring frosts. AMENDMENTS – Placing too many goodies in the hole. SITE SELECTION Each plant has specific needs such as drainage. while transporting them to the planting site. to keep them from blooming to early and losing their blossoms to winter rains. When choosing a site. at least 3‘ by 3‘ for grafted trees. Protect trees from freezing before planting. say on a north side of a building. soil type. soft rock phosphate. kelp meal etc. Planting near a south facing wall can help late fruits to ripen in colder climates. When digging keep the topsoil and subsoil separate. the closer the better. Keep the roots packed in sand. Do some research to find out the requirements of your plants (see references below). pay attention to microclimates. to be placed in the bottom of the hole. in a shady spot and watered thoroughly. After choosing the site and spacing desired. The most important thing to remember is KEEP THE ROOTS MOIST. they should be HEELED IN (buried in a moist medium). compact surface that is impenetrable to young roots. such as bonemeal. On the other hand. lay out the orchard by putting 5 foot stakes at each tree location to line up and visually determine the planting sites. making them good sites for planting. SOAK TREES IN WATER FOR 12 TO 24 HOURS. peat moss. Even for brief periods. If you have not pre dug the holes for your trees and must keep them for more than a few days. but should always be permanently planted before showing any signs of bud swell or growth. Remember that pollenizers. Loosen the sides and the bottom of the hole. which are susceptible to early blooming. especially in clay soils. a moderately fertile and well drained site is best. leaving a hard. PRUNING AND PLANTING . i. soil fertility.2. Note that the shovel may ―glaze‖ the sides of the hole. Dig the hole twice the diameter and twice the root mass of the tree. should be within 50 feet of each other. For this reason it is always advisable to fracture the sides of the hole when filling in.

to protect the tree‘s young sensitive bark from sunburn and flathead bark borers. or on the opposite side of strong prevailing winds. Carefully note where the soil line was o the plant so that you can plant it a t the same depth as it was grown.If your tree has a bud union. Cultivating or mulching the ground in a minimum 2 foot circle around the tree will greatly help the growth. Avoid placing any weeds or green plant material in the hole – they emit methane gas when decomposing. CARE OF YOUNG TREES Proper care is essential during the first few years of a tree‘s life. plump bud at the top of the tree. Put the rest of the topsoil in and tamp lightly. If there is a definite taproot (typical of nuts) leave this longer than the side roots. Be sure you can weed and irrigate regularly during the summer. gently wiggling the tree and poking the mud with a stick to eliminate air bubbles.htm 3. After the water has soaked in. or slightly deeper. Paint the trunk of all young trees from an inch or two below the soil level up to the first branches with white or light colored interior latex paint that has been thinned with equal parts water. A healthy soil and vigorous growth is the best insurance against pests and diseases. Remember that the tree lost several roots when dug. With grafted trees it is important that the graft union be 3‖-6‖ above the soil. so that the roots can feed the branched without strain. as well as crossing roots or unusually long roots. cutting back any side branches and about a third of the top. . which does not agree with young roots. When ready for planting. with the first season being the most crucial. Top dress in the spring with compost or aged manure at the dripline. put about 1/3 of the topsoil mix in the hole and place the tree in. most of them are only one year old grafts All my apple trees are grafted on M 27 or EMLA 27 rootstock I have not tried any other rootstocks such as P 22. spreading the roots. This is especially important in hot summer Although three of my trees are fruiting this year. Fill the hole and let it soak in. but supplemental water is necessary to get them established. Often a mound of soil at the bottom is useful for keeping the roots spread out. cutting 1/2 inch above it. Keep mulch and organic matter away from the tree collar (where the trunk meets the soil) to avoid collar rot. at least 1‖ of water per week (drip works great). remove any sprouts from the rootstock. This can be achieved by puddling the tree roots with large quantities of water. Trees under 4 feet are usually cut back to a 3 foot single whip. A rule of thumb: branched trees and multi-stem shrubs should have 50% of each twig pruned off. face it north. When necessary. http://www. use screening to protect tree roots from rodents. keeping the stem upright. It is important to eliminate air pockets and ensure that the roots are in good contact with the soil. Be sure to leave a healthy. During the growing season. and this must be balanced by top pruning. fill the rest of the hole with the subsoil and tamp it firmly with your feet. Note that standard and semi-standard trees can usually be weaned to dry framing as they mature. Prune off any damaged roots just above the break. Potted Fruit Trees Ken Priddy A few years ago I was forced to start growing my apple trees in pots when I moved to an apartment.sandybarnursery.

Although moss has grown on top of the soil in some of the pots. Trees in larger pots fared better. If you don't have much space for growing fruit trees. I water them one and sometimes two times a day. A honeybee may make dozens of trips daily through the orchard in full blossom and visit hundreds of blossoms. Extreme cold such as we had in the winters of '88-'89 and '89-'90 can prove fatal to potted fruit trees. I am using five gallon pots or smaller for the following reasons: The pots cost less. it has not been a problem yet. It is critical to keep potted trees well watered. forty trees grafted in the Spring of 1992 are in one gallon pots. Some of my apple trees which I pruned way back after one year of growth did not grow much the next year. pollen adheres to their hairy bodies and subsequently rubs off onto the sticky tips of the pistils. but I won't repot that often unless problems occur. Finally. When this happens. As of yet I haven't figured out why the roots of two apple trees died this spring. Five gallon pots seem to work well for my older trees which are starting to fruit. I think my success with trees in one gallon pots is because they are shaded about half the day. Putting the pots up against a building and in a spot protected from the wind helps protect them. http://www. We have also observed that bees prefer to confine their flights to one group of trees so they pollinate well in hedgerows or groups of trees actually growing together. As they visit the flowers collecting nectar and pollen to feed their brood. apples are unable to pollinate themselves. I recommend protecting potted fruit trees from extreme cold during the winter. I have heard that fruit trees need to be repotted every three years. They require pollen from another apple variety to achieve successful fertilization. Though both male (stamens) and female (the pistil) parts occur on the one tree and even within the same blossom. Almost without exception apples need a female parent and a male pollinator. All my trees in gallon pots were killed in '89-'90 by having their roots frozen. or if you are disabled as I am. Apple cross-polination As apples are so widely grown and have been so closely studied we know lots about their sex lives. especially with fruit on them. If the pots are under the eaves. They take less soil to fill them. I plan on putting them in larger pots next year. make sure they don't dry out. On the other hand the isolated .org/article/9/ 4. but I only had a few and don't have much data. The trees must be fed regularly or they will barely grow and will not produce fruit. They are easier to move than larger ones. More protection may be needed. I recommend very limited or no pruning the first three years for apple trees on M 27. moths etc) are responsible for transferring the pollen from one variety to another. Regular fertilizing with small amounts of Rapid-Gro or fish fertilizer keeps my trees healthy and prevents fertilizer build up in the soil. I think pots larger than five gallons would work even better for apple trees.Although my three year old trees are in five gallon pots. Another important factor in growing potted fruit trees is fertilizer.homeorchardsociety. They would need to be watered less and would probably produce more fruit. pollination is effected. I hope you will try growing a few trees in pots. We also know that bees and to a lesser extent a few other insects (beetles.

Woolly aphids are a tiny burrowing insect with a protective white fluffy cottony covering.apples are as bound up by their sexuality and need to reproduce as we are and they want to and are busy doing it! So if you plant 3 or 4 varieties (very early. even roots. Before the time of modern pesticides. Of course we are interested in (and tempted by) the sweet and aromatic flesh surrounding the seeds and pay little attention to the seeds themselves. 3 or 4 varieties growing together will give a good overlap of flowering times and it‘s more usual that apples are too prolific and set far too many fruit and have to be thinned (remove 3 of every 4 fruit if you can bear to do so).au/woodbridgefruittrees/articles/158-apple-crosspollination. and part of the life cycle is a winged insect allowing them to spread. Among the list of triploids are Belle de Boskoop. Woolly Aphid and Rootstocks We have had enquiries lately about rootstocks resistant to woolly aphid and this article is in response to those enquiries. orchardists were forced to use poisons based on arsenic and nicotine to attempt to control this pest. Jonagold. http://www.woodbridgefruittrees. It is not always so that varieties fruiting early in the season also flower early. and can quickly weaken the tree. They suck sap from young branches. and Ribston Pippin. so the bees are not neglecting them either. Apples flower over a period of about a month from late September and there is a good overlap of flowering times to secure good cross pollination. Cat‘s head.roadside wildlings growing around here are always loaded with fruit. These produce no pollen and put all their energy into producing usually big and large quantities of fruit. still many of our new varieties are the result of chance seedlings! In the home orchard there is seldom unsatisfactory cross pollination. They need other apple trees (diploids) to give viable pollen for fertilization and more attention should be given to their requirements. There is a group of apples however.. Calville Blanc D‘Hiver. mid season and late maturing) I‘ll guarantee that you will not have any cross pollination problems. Severe infestations look as though there is cotton wool on the branches of the tree.. Mutsu. Aphid sucking sap ..Woolly aphid is a very destructive insect pest that almost wiped out the apple industry here in Tasmania and in South Africa in the early 1900‘s. known as triploids. buds. Apples are self sterile and need pollen from other apple trees to mix and maintain a rich general diversity in their offsprings. By discarding the seed and spreading it around we are doing our job in nature‘s scheme of things and it is interesting to note that despite the best efforts of plant leaves. Gravenstein.They also live below ground feeding on the roots. Blenheim Orange.An infestation in rootstock beds is particularly damaging even disastrous. Bramley‘s Seedling. And in the end . early.html 5. with varying results.They lay their eggs in the bark of the host and can reproduce quickly. rather than the scenario in which they don‘t set any fruit at all.

withstands drought and poorer soils. produces well in propagating beds. better anchored and served the needs of the industry at the time. It‘s not sufficiently cold resistant for colder parts of USA and Canada.the resulting orchard tree must have very good soil conditions. Amazingly precocious and prolific. modern insecticides have also been developed. does not sucker. It‘s amazing to think that the extensive rootstock breeding programmes were a response to a little pest only a couple of millimeters long! If you‘re getting Woolly aphids on your trees. although that wont prevent the tiny eggs that have already laid from hatching. cordons. In the 1960‘s Dutch and Belgium apple growers started playing around with dwarfing rootstocks. nor treat the ones growing on the roots. often has a one-sided root system. Looking back over the last 15 years or so that we‘ve been producing trees upon this rootstock we‘d like to think it has been a good choice. a variety introduced from East Malling in 1959. You can physically squash the fluffy waxy white stuff where the aphids are cant tolerate anything but rich soil. It should be pointed out that resistance of the Northern Spy derived rootstocks is not passed onto the variety grafted upon them so if an outbreak were to appear above the graft. Realising the short comings of Northern Spy the East Malling Research Station in the UK started a breeding program to produce a better woolly aphid resistant rootstock. Only 15 survived the rigorous tests and from those only 2 really became widely used MM106 and M111. spindle bush and ideal for home gardens and small orchards where one can fit quite a few varieties into a small area. Taking all this into consideration. They are precious and prolific. Comes into fruit early.They crossed Northern Spy with other resistant varieties (eg Ben Davis. In the 80 years since woolly aphid was such a problem. Unfor tunately it wasn‘t so successful as far as rootstocks go . M26 also produces high quality fruit. It was well known that this American apple variety was resistant to woolly aphids and the apple industry quickly changed to using this as a rootstock. It had and still has all the attributes of an excellent rootstock. systemic insecticides if needed. But M9 had problems . Consequently woolly aphid at present is not considered a serious pest of modern well maintained orchards and an outbreak can be quickly and locally controlled with a systemic insecticide like ROGOR 40. can be short lived and not easy to propagate.The combination of M9 rootstock and the variety Jonathan became the standard by which orchards were set. particularly M9. it would still have to be treated. . It makes much more sense for the home orchard to grow 3 or 4 small trees with a broad spectrum of ripening times in the space of one regular sized tree. It‘s not quite as precocious as M106. Winter Majetin and M793) to produce some 4000 rootstocks to be tested. M111 (or M one eleven as it‘s known) is a little more vigorous. high quality fruit and semi-dwarfing in size. there‘s a range of things you can do. these intense orchards were producing twice or even three times more fruit per hectare than ever before.Mass woolly aphid infection in apple growing areas in the late 19th and early 20th century prompted the use of Northern Spy as a rootstock. Consequently. It has become the standard dwarfing rootstock in Europe and Australia. It is slightly more vigorous than M9. many growers switched to M26. and it‘s standard nursery practice to keep woolly aphid under control in propagating beds with vigilance firslty and secondly. and has a brittle root system so needs support to prevent the tree falling over. MM106 became the standard rootstock of our apple industry for 50 or more years. very suited to intense growing systems like espaliers. we decided to go for M26 rootstocks when growing our trees.

hoverflies (larvae) and Aphidius wasp are predators of woolly aphids.A lime sulphur spray (can irritate if got on the skin as it‘s quite alkaline) in winter months may help kill the eggs between fissures of the bark. this stuff is toxic. especially in the gardens of the aristocracy and the church. Sunflower. dedication and attention to detail is mind boggling to a mere apple grower like me. Helianthus. By these means they were widely disseminated throughout the Roman Empire. In any case. Lupin. They can be attracted by companion planting . Coriander. What are dwarfing fruit trees? How to make a prolific orchard The Greek historian Theophrastus writing in about 350 BC recorded that Alexander the great sent home to Greece from Asia minor plant material of the "Spring apple". Systemic spray exist that control wooly aphids. Research began at East Malling research station in Kent to standardise the available material and find those most suitable for orchard production. Coreopsis. it appears that the Romans too were conversant with grafting and found dwarfed apples fitted very happily into formal Roman garden culture. and by the time of the Renaissance. Keeping the garden well mulched and watered will provide moisture for these beneficial bugs. Coreopsis. Systemic sprays include: Pyrethrum spray is considered low toxic but can also affect benificial insects. The EM rootstocks were mostly collected throughout Europe and the MM rootstocks were the result of controlled crosses between many species of malus both wild and cultivated. Again. From the many subsequent references that survive.html 6.woodbridgefruittrees. Achillea. There is conjecture that the name "paradise" is connected somehow to the garden of Eden. Yarrow. Statice. Lemon Balm. That is why virtually all our clonal rootstocks have a prefix EM (East Malling) often shortened just to M or later MM (Malling Merton). http://www. Verbascum. Alleged to kill bees. We do not recommend these because of their Alyssum. self rooting form of malus. Similarly white oil emulsion or paraffin oil work by suffocating the insects in winter months. and there is a withholding period before the fruit can be harvested of at least 7 days. It works well. By 1900 when fruit growing was becoming more specialised and scientific. what was started by the Romans was continued by the monastery system in Europe during the middle ages. This message from almost 2500 years ago is the first reference to what became known as the paradise apple. Harmless sprays to try include oils: use ECO-OIL (canola oil based with teetree and eucalyptus oil) to smother the insects and dehydrate and kill the eggs. paradise rootstocks were firmly established throughout Dill. Starting at EM 1 the research continued until 1952 with EM 3461! This amount of research. Rogor (SIPCAM) is a systemic organophosphate insecticide used mainly in an agricultural setting. a dwarf.plenty of water during dry months along with approach is to make sure the tree isn‘t stressed . why all . Fennel. manure and a balanced fer may ask. Well . A healthy tree is much more able to resist insect infestation. Scabius. Some say growing nasturtiums at the base of the trees can prevent the woolly aphid crawling up. considered low toxicity but has a withholding period of up to 3 weeks before fruit is picked after treating. Ladybugs. it was realised that there was a great confusion in the rootstock materials found in the nursery trade. and unavailable in most domestic nurseries because of it‘s potency and toxicity. Foxglove. Confidor (BAYER / YATES) is applied as a soil drench and absorbed through the roots of the plant.

Varieties on dwarfing rootstocks are much easier to thin in the "on" year thereby not stressing the tree too much and so to bear more regularly.dwarfing trees are planted at much higher density. Small growing trees are very precocious starting to bear fruit usually in their second year (if you grow them well that is).200 trees per hectare. The home garden fruit tree business in Australia has focused on big vigorous looking trees with big glossy labels in garden centres with staff seldom conversant with fruit tree culture.and we all know that bigger is better. Keep pruning to an absolute minimum (difficult for a nation that just loves pruning. Some varieties such as Gravenstein.dwarfing stocks cannot cope with replant situations like seedlings can . This is because of several reasons: seedlings are much cheaper to produce . Many varieties of apples have a biennial habit .up to 9 years . Anchorage is not as good in dwarf trees and cropping is heavier. Also in our Australian environment dwarfed trees can easily be protected from birds and wildlife predation (see my espalier article) . providing fruit over 4 or 5 months in the space of one large tree. They are easier to spray and prune and harvesting is more efficient.a big cost difference. This is what YOU should do: Firstly don‘t buy big trees in garden centres. so wires and systems have been developed to support the trees. Don‘t over fertilize trees. For the home gardener it‘s perfect to grow 4 or 5 dwarf trees. Early irrigation makes more vegetative growth than fruit. Leave some fruit. and even today some orchardists continue to grow trees on seedling rootstocks. The trees have to sell themselves . Over fertilisation also seems to cause calcium deficiency. Jonagold and Blenheim Orange (these are triploids and give no viable pollen) are notoriously slow to start bearing on normal rootstocks . sideway branches grow fruit) Let the tree crop early. Work done at our research station here at Grove in Tasmania also showed (very important this!) that fruit quality on dwarfed stocks was much higher than on seedling stocks and that the fruit stored and transported better. DON‘T do as the books say and remove all the fruit for the first years. an orchardist may have to buy 1000 trees . In reality the opposite is true. Calcium is deficient in most Australian soils . It pulls the branches down and inspires you to give your little tree even more attention. so instead of 150 .) Tie down upright growing branches rather than cut them (upright branches grow leaves. This was due to available calcium supply both within the tree and the fruits themselves. Mutsu.whereas on dwarfing rootstocks they are precocious and begin to flower in their third year.that is they tend to bear a huge crop of fruit one year and have a rest the next.this fuss and work to produce dwarf apple trees? Why not just produce nice big ones as nature intended? It‘s all to do with control and quality.. High nitrogen levels are a recipe for growth vigour and low fruit quality. In Australia the move to dwarfing rootstocks was very painful for the apple industry.. Don‘t start to irrigate trees in spring until you feel it‘s really necessary.

but they increase the risk of sun damage to fruit cells under extreme weather conditions. Many orchardists use calcium sprays. keep branches horizontal and don‘t fertilize Minimise sun damage The extreme heat a couple of seasons ago—and the heavy fruit losses that resulted—should not be forgotten because now is the time to protect fruit from such damage. don‘t let weeds compete. late hand thinning and the removal of sunburnt fruit resulted in previously protected fruit becoming sunburnt. The last 12 months of mild temperatures and plenty of rain is a stark contrast to the 2008–09 and 2009–10 seasons where we experienced low rainfall and extreme temperatures resulting in significant levels of sunburnt fruit. Fruit on the west side of trees was damaged more by sunburn than on the east side. . Lessons learnt from the 2008 to 2010 seasons Trees near headlands were often most affected. Sunburn products There is no new product of note: Parasol. Blocks with a healthy inter-row. Summer pruning. Hail netting was helpful in reducing damage to fruit by solar radiation but hail netting alone was often not enough to prevent sunburn. There was very little requirement for sunburn protectants last season and it will be interesting to see what this summer brings. Surround and Raynox are still the main sunburn protection products. did better. keep pruning to an absolute minimum. as a opposed to dead grass. Weather conditions that favour fruit injury to sunburn include cool weather prior to high temperatures in combination with low humidity for extended periods of time. Fruit that suffered the least amount of sunburn had sunburn products applied at regular intervals in addition to being covered by hail net. Gala and Pink Lady™ were less affected.woodbridgefruittrees.html 7. plant them close. http://www.and apples have trouble taking up calcium from the Unconditioned fruit suddenly exposed to the sun‘s heat were at high risk of solar radiation injury. In short: for a productive home orchard: buy dwarf trees. Glassy core and bitter pit are caused by a lack of calcium. Dwarfing rootstocks provide even light distribution through the canopy. Fuji and Granny Smith appeared to be the most severely damaged varieties.

Integrated Crop Management (ICM) using local ‗weeds‘ as windbreaks.treefruit. resulted in a strong acidic soil profile. These sands were maintained at low pH for disease control. http://www. and the resourcefulness of growers against the challenges of the environment. Some orchardists have had success using the spreader Du-Wett to improve coverage. So it has a better fit for use in conjunction with evaporative cooling systems. and the long-term use of urea fertiliser with no other cropping. and poor nutrient retention. Timing applications with the fruit growth-rate curve has given the best results—apply more applications early in the season when fruit growth rate is highest. Raynox is a liquid which leaves no visible residue on fruit and does not wash off in wet weather like the other products. and blown sand damaging newly planted trees. Soil reclamation The sand hills grew fresh market potatoes for many years. but offer very little else. low water-holding capacity. and less frequently approaching harvest.Parasol is an easy to use liquid that leaves a fine protective particle film on the surface of fruit that is removed easily in the packhouse. It‘s a test of the persistence and endurance of the trees.php/2012-02-11-05-40-34/crop-protection/sunburn/item/166minimise-sun-damage 8. Good options include tower Surround is a fine white powder that also leaves a protective particle film on the fruit surface. Timing Correct application timing is essential to optimise protection. Location Problem Solution Mowbray Citrus. rather than attempting to apply them through a traditional airblast sprayer. so soil reclamation was the first step in establishment. Spray application Applying sunburn products from above is the preferred method. Berrigan NSW. Practical ICM at its best Establishing a new citrus orchard on the windblown sand hills in the southern Riverina of New South Wales is a challenge. . or attaching a boom to airblast sprayers that extends to the height of the trees. The sands are a good medium to support the plant. The sands have extremely low organic matter. The sand hills in the area are quite high with deep gullies.

By using a ‗weed‘ that tolerates the conditions and grows without irrigation in a most difficult climate (trees are drip irrigated so no irrigation water reaches the sward between the rows). The sand hills are very prone to wind—hence sand blasting any crops—especially around the spring and autumn equinox. Weed control & benefits The problems that the Paterson‘s curse produces. double drip lines and a state-of-the-art fertigation system were installed. have been managed with a covered treeline sprayer for treeline weed control. The Paterson‘s curse also provides an insectary for their biological controls that have been released. so these crops never had the rains early in the season for emergence of the crops and they didn‘t establish to develop as windbreaks. I noted some spectacular biological activity. it rarely rains at the right time. While Paterson‘s curse. as we all know. However. Seven insects that attack all stages of Paterson‘s curse have been released in Australia. the crops died out completely and didn‘t even provide any ground cover. the winds pass over the top of the citrus trees and are protected from the blown sand. Sand wasps . it is an established weed and part of the local landscape. The first trees were planted in March 2011. there were huge numbers of armyworm caterpillars and platoons of sand wasps controlling them. in this situation the advantages are much greater than any disadvantage. Clever use of the environment The alternative (shown in the images) illustrates the clever use of the environment. This system will give protection to the trees for two to three years—until they are well over the height of the Paterson‘s curse. To overcome the winds and damage from windblown sand. There are disadvantages to having such an important weed.Lime and gypsum were applied down the tree lines. On the exposed tops of the sand hills. In the sward of Paterson‘s curse. There were sporadic armyworm caterpillars in the young citrus trees giving some—but not significant—leaf damage. however. may not be seen as natural. also known as salvation Jane (Echium plantagineum). Spectacular biological activity While taking pictures of the wind break created by the Paterson‘s curse. a range of crops such as millet and sorghum were grown to act as wind breaks.

but the sand wasp was the most common. Regular soil treatments applied to the soil and watered in or applied through the micro irrigation can help the nature of the root growth. In the image above. and then take measures to minimise that If the roots are deep. She then carries the caterpillar to the nest she has dug in the sand and places the immobilised caterpillar inside the nest where an egg is then laid. The root hair tips are especially influenced by temperature. is the site where water and nutrients are absorbed. better protection If you can follow the logic above. Root enhancement products . The brains of the plant are protected deep in the ground and are somewhat immune to the impact of ambient temperature changes. but more importantly. he reminded the group about the function of tree roots. work out how they are impacted by environmental factors. The developing wasp larva feeds on the paralysed caterpillar prey—a great example of IPM in practise. Stoller‘s Research Director.php/2012-02-11-05-40-34/crop-growth-management/item/165practical-icm-at-its-best 9. Tree roots The roots are the control centre for the plant. sand wasp nests can be seen dug into the sand along the treeline and around the weeds. Deeper roots. (such as the weather). then the temperature and the general conditions for the roots are more consistent.treefruit. planning the 2013 R&D program with Stoller‘s Australian technical team. the site where four of the five main plant hormones are While he was in here he took time out to update the locals on the latest thinking. If the root hairs are healthy and functioning then the rest of the plant is better equipped to cope with the weather. then you must agree that we want deep root systems that are protected from the environment. Roots—the ‘brains’ of the plant The worldwide Stoller Group has a mission to look at the factors that influence plant growth. As the foundation for this.The female sand wasp stings and paralyses her prey. Dr Albert Liptay spent a week in Australia recently. Stoller Australia has a number of treatments that can help with deep functional roots. http://www. These hormones form the messaging system for the plant. In this way the plant‘s control centre is not exposed to stresses that would have an impact with a shallower or weaker root system. There were a number of different wasps. The new root hair tissue that has a life of about 14 days.

treefruit. . Non-destructive fruit maturity meter Recently. With the root system (control centre) in a safe and stable environment below ground.‖ http://www. flesh firmness. Another product called Action 5. ―It isn‘t rocket science‖. An important factor affecting fruit quality is maturity and it is essential to maintain optimum maturity at every step in the chain from harvest to consumption. calcium and magnesium with co-factors. These devices can be used in the field or on packing lines. but can be expensive. Equipment that is commercially available commonly uses visible (vis) and near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy and acoustic technologies respectively.php/2012-02-11-05-40-34/nutrition/item/149roots%E2%80%94the-%E2%80%98brains%E2%80%99-of-the-plant These are normally determined destructively on a sample of fruit which is not always representative of the variability of fruit batches. relatively slow and generally require frequent. fruit colour and starch content. so we need to continually trigger new root growth. complex calibration on a large number of fruit to be useful. explains Doctor Liptay. Stoller‘s RootFeed is a multinutrient soil treatment that supplies amine nitrogen. as well as deeper root system with greater mass.Most of Stoller‘s specialty root enhancement products incorporate calcium and co-factors. Fruit maturity is directly linked to most of the variables that comprise fruit quality such as total soluble solids. These components act in a synergistic manner and trigger new root tissue development with each application. Innovative non-destructive fruit maturity meter Supply of consistent quality fruit to consumers is one of the major challenges facing the Australian fresh fruit industry. Despite being a major driver of fruit quality it is not easy to measure and maintain maturity at optimum levels from farm to consumer. As we mentioned above. root hair tissue (brains of the plant) only live for 14 days. performs a similar function without the amine nitrogen content so is an ideal supplement to a regular fertiliser program. There are currently only a few instruments that allow non-destructive measurements of specific fruit quality attributes such as soluble solids and flesh ―but looking after the control centre (roots) can keep the whole factory (tree) in production and help the tree maximise the realisation of its blue print (or genetic potential). a new non-destructive fruit maturity meter was developed in Italy and is being tested by DPI Victoria. This unique combination has both a nutrient and hormone balancing effect on tree growth leading to a more robust root system. total acidity. the plant is able to tolerate weather variations and make adjustments to the plant functioning pattern despite the environmental variations and threats.

The DA easily separated fully red peach varieties into consistent classes which had a high correlation with ethylene production rate. Consequently a set of reference indices are required for each cultivar. Further research is required to identify the correct DA value ranges for each step. Other research has shown that the DA Meter is a reliable tool for monitoring on-tree apple ripening to establish the optimum harvest time to maximise fruit storage life and quality. Research needed to fully utilise potential A great deal of additional research is necessary to fully utilise the enormous potential of this instrument. . A maturity index is developed for each fruit variety by calculating the difference in absorbance (DA) between two wavelengths (670 and 720 nm) close to the absorbance peak of chlorophyll-a and comparing this with fruit ethylene production. It can also be used during the cold chain to establish maturity changes over time. Developed and patented by Professor Costa and his team at the University of Bologna. the potential of the DA Meter was assessed for segregating peaches and nectarines into consistent quality classes based on shelf life and consumer preference attributes. the DA Meter is a portable spectrometer which can accurately monitor fruit maturity. but once established they can be used year after year as DA values are not affected by agronomic or postharvest practices. it was used to establish the optimum time to harvest and in the pack house the DA value was used successfully to accurately sort fruit according to maturity. Potential use for DA values in stone and pome fruit Each fruit species and cultivar has specific DA values according to the different phases of maturation. postharvest ripening behaviour and consumer acceptance. until it reaches a minimum value when fruit ripening is complete. This is a major advantage over other non-destructive technologies which require at least annual recalibration. Pioneering research by the University of Bologna team indicated that the DA Meter exhibited great potential in the peach production chain. Assigning DA values to each stage of the chain is one step required for adoption of the DA technology by the horticultural industry. which is an indicator that ripening has started. The DA value is strongly correlated with ethylene production of fruit. The DA decreases in value during ripening of the fruit. In another study. Italy.The DA Meter (Figure 1) is an innovative instrument for non-destructively determining fruit maturity by measuring the decline in chlorophyll content immediately below the skin during ripening. In the field.

storage. However. Consistent. This will increase consumer satisfaction and return sales. Fruit maturity could become the quality parameter that allows full integration of information between practitioners at each step in the chain based on an exact reference value provided by the DA Meter. Knowing the ideal DA value that correlates with quality preferred by consumers will permit real time correlation at each step of the chain allowing fast decisions on the future of each fruit regarding the remaining shelf life and consequently the preferred market. predictable and consistent storage quality whether using normal air. handling. Testing under Australian conditions The Department of Primary Industries Victoria based at Knoxfield has recently acquired a DA Meter and is testing its efficacy on stone and pome fruit varieties under Australian conditions. .To optimise maturity and quality during the entire fruit chain the DA Meter can be used as a tool to: optimise crop load and other agronomic practices to obtain a consistent. simple value chain protocols can be created and whole system models implemented to provide a high level of agility for the Australian industry and the ability to respond rapidly and strategically to market contingencies and outside pressures both locally and internationally. As a start. fruit composition and quality and consumer preferences. high quality crop reduce the number of picks and reduce fruit variability identify the optimal picking window monitor and quantify maturity of stored fruit and at any specific time the shelf-life potential of the fruit sort fruit according to maturity. harvest. the DA Meter has been integrated as a standard measurement at harvest time in current and future DPI pome and stone fruit projects. Monitoring fruit maturity using DA values along the value chain will allow the identification of best management practices at each step which will reduce losses due to variable quality and will increase efficiency and profitability. DA value ranges at each step of the chain for key varieties are unknown and DPI is planning research projects which will help identify them. national or export markets and minimising variability in shelf life and market performance enable retailers to rapidly and accurately measure fruit maturity to mange inventory thus presenting produce consistently at the required consumer preference. thus guaranteeing optimal. Currently. CA or 1-MCP increase market flexibility by being able to measure and predict suitability of fruit for supplying local. considerable industry investment and collaborative effort will be required to cover the broad range of possible fruit species and variety. Future research projects cover all steps in the value chain including fruit production. Close collaboration with the University of Bologna team has allowed data exchange and frequent discussion to further develop this revolutionary instrument.

treefruit. Full adoption of the DA-Meter will help project the current Australian horticulture supply chain into the 21st century. transforming it into a powerful value chain leading the world wide horticultural market in term of volume and http://www.php/2012-02-11-05-40-34/orchard-equipment/tools/item/92innovative-non-destructive-fruit-maturity-meter .au/index.Preliminary results Preliminary results in Australia indicate that the DA Meter is very effective for monitoring and quantifying the effects of irrigation on Royal Gala maturity at harvest (Figure 2) as well as measuring fruit maturity at harvest to predict storage life and susceptibility to chilling injury of mid season peach and nectarine varieties.