Good Fruit Grower

August 2013

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FOLLOW the fruit M Photo by geraldine warner ike Robinson's orchard at Othello, Washington, is one of three locations on a multistage Honeycrisp Fruit School organized by Washington State University with the Washington State Horticultural Association. The school is designed to allow growers to follow the fruit from early in the growing season through harvest and storage. The other two orchards are Richard Thomason's Maverick Orchards in Brewster and Bruce Allen's Chiawana Orchards in Yakima. Growers visited the orchards in early June and will return to the same blocks in September, near harvest, to see the impacts of orchard practices during the summer and discuss harvest strategies and storage objectives. Stored fruit will be run over a packing line, and quality and packout data on fruit from the same orchards will be discussed during a full-day Research-to-Practice Workshop on December 5 following the Hort Association's annual meeting in Wenatchee. The workshop becomes a less valuable apple, he's not going to risk the uncertainties of chemical thinning, though he does apply NAA (naphthaleneacetic acid) just to the tops of the trees to remove late bloom. Orchard-Rite® Wind Machines • "Orchard Rite Service is second to none." Sunburn protection To avoid heat damage, Robinson installed shade cloth that also serves as hail net (or vice versa). He has several types of cloth or netting, some white and some black, ranging from 6.0 to 11.5 feet wide. The cloth is installed at an angle, so it only partially covers the rows. It's designed to protect the trees from hail, which usually comes from the west, and shade them in the afternoons. "Until noon, I have full sunlight on the trees, and then in the afternoon the white shade cloth blocks about 22 percent of the light," he said. The black cloth, which has a bigger mesh, is supposed to block about the same amount of light, though Robinson said it's hard to get good numbers for the various cloths. Karen Lewis, WSU extension educator, said sensors would be put in the orchard this year to assess the actual amount of light interception. Robinson figures he spent $4,000 per acre on the shades, of which $1,800 was for the fabric. The cost was high because he had to install a new set of 17-foot trellis posts in an existing system. If he were installing it again, he would install the initial trellis with taller posts that also could be used to hold up the shade system. He also uses evaporating cooling, but said he waits as long as possible during the season, partly to avoid aggravating mildew problems with the moisture and also because he feels it affects fruit finish and results in an unattractive muddy red color. On other varieties, he uses deficit irrigation near harvest to break the background color and hopes to do the same on Honeycrisp. In blocks that he has without shade cloth, he cools Honeycrisp when the orchard temperature reaches 90°F. When the fruit begin to color, he starts at 85°F. With the shade cloth, he hopes to be able to delay cooling until the temperature reaches 95°F and then use it mostly to avoid heat stress and keep the trees growing. For new Honeycrisp blocks that will go in next year, Robinson will plant nursery trees four feet apart with 11 feet between rows and train them to a single leader. He wouldn't want rows closer than 11 feet because he plans to use a picking platform and possibly a mechanical harvester. • will cover economics, orchard establishment and site optimization, crop load and light management, harvest strategies, fruit quality, and storage regimes. "We want people to clearly understand that the production site, harvest strategies, and storage regime all impact the final condition of this apple like no other," said Karen Lewis, WSU extension specialist. "This is a great chance to get it right and do it together. Prices for Honeycrisp could fall. If you play Russian roulette on quality with a $3.99-per-pound apple, it's far different from playing Russian roulette with a 99-cent-a-pound apple. "The fact that this apple is available for us in Washington to grow is fantastic," she added. "It's a big deal. Let's get it right, and if it means learning from each other to get it right, let's do it." To register for one of the three preharvest tours or the December workshop, contact Joanne Thomas at the Hort Association, joanne@wa, (509) 665-9641. —G. Warner "We're real believers in the Auto Start option." Steve Nunley A s the operations manager for Pride Packing, I am responsible for managing 2,800 acres of orchard under 260 wind machines. Of that, approximately 1,000 acres are in stone fruit with the remaining acreage in apples and pears. From November to February, we can deal with arctic events that will take our temperature into the single digits—and even subzero. I really don't think it's possible to grow stone fruit economically in the Yakima Valley without wind machines. This last year, we would not have even had an apricot crop without them. All of our wind machine purchases since 1982 have been Orchard-Rite. In the wintertime, when we're starting these machines, the temperatures are usually single digits to subzero. We depend on—and have complete confidence in—our Orchard-Rite® Wind Machines and the service we receive. We still have the first Orchard-Rite® Wind Machine we ever bought! We're real believers in the Auto Start option. We order Auto Start on all our new machines. To date, we've retrofitted about 50% of our old machines, and plan to put the Auto Start on the remaining machines. Steve Nunley, Farming Operations Manager Pride Packing, Wapato, Washington Get the Orchard-Rite® story from your nearest representative: 1615 W. Ahtanum • Yakima, WA 98903 • 509-248-8785, ext. 612 For the representative nearest you, visit our Web site: GOOD FRUIT GROWER AUGUST 2013 11

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