When will it rain again?

I write this column while racing between water valves, pump pressure gauges and sprinkler heads that need regular cleaning.

I look back at the technology we’ve quietly seen evolve from drippers to compensated sprinklers, from manual valves to automated solar-powered and battery-powered valves with computer controlled systems measuring the water use, reporting the water use and generally making us more efficient with it. This is still technology more to come. Currently, we are soaking our root zone weekly for 48 hours then stopping.

Yes, it has been dry. We need rain and they say rain is on its way. On contoured land the impact of this dry is really being felt. It’s starting to impact fruit size, tree vigour and leaf quality. I’m seeing fruit drop. Now fruit drop is a natural process which happens in many heavy cropping years. The first drop occurred during February and you can expect another drop after the rains arrive. This moisture will expand the fruit and push it off its stem. And it can impact on the crop load.

Last month I wrote about planning. I see a similar tone from the industry, however in regard to pruning during the heat – be very careful. We won’t start until we see some drop in the heat and even some moisture.

When the rains arrive we want to get tree vigour. So get fertiliser on quickly when it rains; even put it on in the rain. Adding a bit more nitrogen then will also be helpful.

Lastly, start talking to you fruit marketer about their plans for next year. I know we still have a few months to wrap up but the early bird gets the worm and with good planning you can be in that position. Compliance is again at the forefront and AAL is working closely to ensure fruit is suitable for presenting to all export and local markets.


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