Good Fruit Grower

July 2016

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Page 10 of 39 Good Fruit Grower JULY 2016 11 Thinning trials F rank Bavaro, a cling peach grower in Escalon, California, modified a Darwin string thinner to feature a pivoting arm that allows movement in and out along the contours of the orchard canopy. He ran his own trials in 2015, comparing string thinner use at bloom four different ways, as well as traditional hand thinning at pit hardening, on a total of 500 14-year-old Ross variety V-shaped trees planted in 16-foot rows with 8-foot spacing. Each trial was 1.5 acres. He chose Trial No. 3 to repeat commercially on about 125 acres this year and is having similar, if not better, results, he said. —Trial 1: String thinning the sides and tops of trees and no hand thinning Cost per acre: $140 Production per acre: 33.6 tons for canning, 7.3 tons for juice. (Canners pay a flat, negotiated price of $490 per ton of fruit that meets the minimum size of 2 3/8 inches diameter.) —Trial 2: String thinning and hand thinning with no ladders Cost per acre: $230 Production per acre: 30.6 tons for canning, 6 tons for juice. —Trial 3: String thinning and hand thinning with a rubber-tipped pole but no ladders Cost per acre: $293 Production per acre: 33.3 tons, all for canning. —Trial 4: String thinning and hand-thinning with ladders Cost per acre: $760 Production per acre: 31 tons, all for canning. —Trial 5: Conventional hand thinning after pit-hardening in May with ladders and no string thinning Cost per acre: $810 Production per acre: 29.3 tons, all for canning. Note: Fruit that had been string-thinned at bloom sized between 36 and 38 millimeters by pit-hardening in May, compared with 32 to 34 millimeter-sized fruit without string thinning. per ton. About 30 to 40 percent of the state's cling peaches are marketed to the food service industry, which includes schools, cafeterias, prisons, hospitals and senior nutrition programs. Bavaro's savings In the past, Bavaro typically hired 25 employees for 30 days just to thin fruit by hand, using ladders, at a cost of $900 to $1,200 per acre. This year, using his new invention on mostly V-shaped trees, Bavaro cut that to nine workers. Meanwhile, his fruit came out with better quality and size and required less postbloom hand thinning because it allowed for eyeball decisions from his employees about how aggressively to knock away blossoms, he said. Overall, he spent between $325 and $425 per acre. Bavaro has plans for the future, too. Next year, he plans to fit two swinging arms onto both sides of the thinner, each operated from a platform towed behind the tractor. That will allow a worker on each side of the alley to thin simultaneously without making them walk, alleviating a safety concern. He also is tinkering with a way to get a string thinner into the center of the tree, a hurdle he has yet to leap. Like other peach growers, Bavaro is planting new blocks that he will train for shape uniformity from the beginning to make way for mechanization, such as a more traditional string thinner and maybe mechanical harvesting someday. He has to, he said, if he wants to stay in the peach business — which he does. Workers are only going to get more scarce and expensive. "You got to face the reality of it," he said. • R ecoFOG® controls decay through clean and efficient thermofogging applications. Fludioxonil Pyrimethanil Diphenylamine Ethoxyquin Thiabendazole FYSIUM® is a 1-MCP technology that preserves the value of your apples. ecoFOG® is a registered trademark of Pace International LLC. FYSIUM is a registered trademark of Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Belgium. T w o T e c h n o l o g i e s , O n e S e r v i c e T e a m Protect Your Fruit Make One Call to Pace ® Please contact a Pace Representative for more information: 1.800.936.6750 Visit for more information on all our products and services.

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