Good Fruit Grower

April 15

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12 APRIL 15, 2015 GOOD FRUIT GROWER Orchards need to be renovated to produce the kind of fruit that's in demand. by Geraldine Warner T he economic challenges in the apple industry this year underline the impor- tance of keeping orchards updated so they're produc- ing the type and quality of product the market wants, says Tom Auvil, research horticulturist with the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission. "You need to have a business plan that includes renovating the production system either by replanting or grafting over varieties," he said during winter horticultural meetings in Washington. If growers are acquiring orchards or expanding acreage, they still need to replace varieties that are losing their market status, he said. "Just because we buy a new piece of ground, it doesn't mean that the variet- ies are any better than we're currently growing. Make sure we're truly advanc- ing the quality of the product we take to market." Depressed Prices of most varieties of Washington apples have been depressed this season because of several factors, including a record crop and an extended slow- down at West Coast ports that limited exports. Golden Delicious seems to be going through a steep decline, Auvil noted, and Red Delicious and Rome apples have been averaging well below break-even prices so far this season. Cameo, Braeburn, and Jonagold have also been under price stress. However, some varieties have fared better. Managed varieties, such as Ambrosia, Jazz, Pinova, and Sonya, have averaged $30 or more a box f.o.b. so far this season. Honeycrisp has brought in the highest returns at close to $50 a box. Really-red Gala and Fuji are also doing well. Auvil said there are several bench- marks that growers should aim for. An established orchard that is averaging $20 a box for the fruit, or a gross revenue of $10,000 per acre, is in a fairly stable situation. "But this year, when we're looking at $15 f.o.b.s and 15 packs per bin, that revenue is going to drop to $5,000 or less," he said. "We need to have realistic expectations of the revenue flow that's going to cover our ever-increasing cost of doing business." Auvil said returns on the newer varieties, such as SweeTango, Envy, and Opal, are high enough to cover not just the cost of production but establishment costs also. Yields Another benchmark that's important is the volume of production. When replanting an orchard, it's important to fumigate the ground in order to reach the full yield potential. Replant disease stunts the feeder roots of trees, restricting uptake of water and nutrients and producing symptoms similar to drought stress. Trees planted on traditional rootstocks in untreated old soil won't develop the bearing sur- face to produce more than 20 bins per acre, he warned. The cost of fumigation can be more than recouped in the first crop, he said, expressing surprise that some orchards are still being replanted without fumigation. Rootstocks Geneva rootstocks that are tolerant of replant disease provide a longer-term solution to the problem than fumi- gation (See "Rootstocks under trial."). Geneva rootstocks come in a range of sizes, but production systems and horticultural practices can make more of a difference, in terms of productivity, than whether the rootstock is dwarfing or semi-dwarfing, Auvil said. The closer trees are planted together, the less each tree will have to grow to fill the space. "There's a big difference between three and five feet in the row and the ability to get the tree to grow tall," he said. Cropping too soon or too heavily in a replant site can be a problem, because it stops tree growth and limits devel- opment of the canopy and potential yields, he warned. When horticulturists suggested sev- eral years ago that growers should aim to produce 70 bins per acre, they were roundly criticized, Auvil recalled. "The industry was happy with 45 to 50 bins per acre, but today we have some producers who are budgeting for 100 bins per acre and think 70 is on the slim side of production." • Keep varieties UPDATED GERALDINE WARNER/GOOD FRUIT GROWER Profitability depends on high yields of apples in high demand, says Tom Auvil. For over 40 years, growers have been enjoying the fruits of our labor. At ProTree Nursery, experience has taught us to select the best varieties, graft only the highest quality rootstocks and grow hearty trees. As one of the leading suppliers of apple and cherry varieties to orchard growers, our customers have come to depend on our trees and our service. You can too, call us today. 10500 Brentwood Blvd., Brentwood, CA 94513 800.634.1671 or 925.634.2191 (Alison Clegg or Richard Chavez) 877.457.6901 (Henry Sanguinetti) Apples Aztec Fuji ® (DT-2 cv) Banning Red Fuji (USPP 16,624 P2) Blondee™ (USPP 19,007 McLaughlin cv) Buckeye ® Gala (USPP 10,840) Firestorm™ Honeycrisp Honeycrisp™ (USPP 7197) JonaStar JonaGold™ (USPP 20,590) September Wonder™ Fuji (USPP 11,193) Ultima™ Gala (USPP 13,753 P2) These apple varieties are available on B-118, BUD-10, EMLA-7, EMLA-26, EMLA-106, EMLA-111, G-30, M-9 (T-337), NIC ® -29, or Pajam #2. Cherries Benton™ Bing Black Tart BlackPearl ® Brooks™ BurgundyPearl ® Chelan™ Coral Champagne Cristalina™ EbonyPearl ® Lapins RadiancePearl ® Rainier Selah™ Skeena™ Sweetheart™ Tamora Tulare™ Vans Available on Colt, Gisela ® , Krymsk ® , Mahaleb, or Mazzard. * * Not all varieties are available on all rootstocks. Call for specific grafting information. M E M B E R O F w w w . p r o t r e e n u r s e r y. c o m

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