Good Fruit Grower

December 2013

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To hand thin, gently run a finger over the top of the lateral (use a soft glove which is easier on the finger). Hand-thinning has removed about 50 percent of the flowers. chemical thinning. Also, hand-thinning can be done in any type of low or high-density orchard system. Most fruit growers may think that hand-thinning is both costly and difficult to do correctly, so they overlook the benefits. However, once you know the fruiting habit of a variety, hand-thinning of flowers does not need to be costly and difficult, and can be more profitable than fruit-thinning only. If you want to try hand-thinning of flowers, or want to get better at it, here are some hints. Use either a) quick hand-thinning to reduce the crop load or buy some time before fruit-thinning has to be completed, or b) precise hand-thinning. With both methods, thin down from the top of the tree, to avoid knocking off remaining flowers in the bottom part. It is a quick way of getting a heavy bloom under control before the tree's reserves run out. Whether you use quick or precise hand-thinning, remove the flowers at the popcorn stage (i.e., early in the cropping cycle). Flowers come off easily at this stage when you gently run your gloved fingers along the topsides of the laterals. Flowers that face downwards set better fruit and are less prone to frost damage than are flowers that face upwards. With quick hand-thinning, remove about 50 percent of the flowers. With precise hand-thinning, leave 50 to 100 percent more flowers than you need. For example, if you need 2 fruit per lateral, leave 3 or 4 flowers per lateral. You may also have to do some fruit thinning later, but you will have plenty of time for that. Use precise hand-thinning when you are confident of the fruit set. You must know the cropping potential and size required of each variety that you want to hand-thin. Know the characteristic of fruit set of the variety that you want to hand-thin. Be aware of the varieties that set a lot of doubles or dummies. These can substantially reduce yield after these fruit have been removed or have fallen off, and are often oversized or have disorders, such as split pits. Be aware of frost pockets in your orchard. Handthinned trees are more exposed to frost than are trees that have not been hand-thinned. Always have some kind of frost protection in place. If you thin later than at the popcorn stage, you could damage the emerging leaves and new shoots. In some cases, if you have time, you can use precise hand-thinning as a follow-up, after you have used quick hand-thinning. Chemical blossom burners thin flowers before they are pollinated and fertilised, while growth regulators is mounted on the front of a tractor, and has a vertical spinning spindle with plastic cables attached to it. As the tractor moves through the orchard with the spindle spinning, the plastic cables thrash through the trees and remove flowers. Mechanical thinning avoids effects of bad weather, but may have to be followed up with extra force flowers to abort after they have been pollinated. It is difficult to obtain good, consistent results with blossom burners or growth regulators, because bad weather during and after application can alter the performance of these chemicals. Mechanical thinning is done with a machine that The Orsi labour platform is a very well-built machine that will save you money. Features include; Kubota diesel, auto steer with ultra sonic sensors, auto level for use in uneven terrain, auto diff. lock, hydraulic balconies, compressor, 4WD/4WS and much more. No need to bin-out orchard for harvest - machine carries 5 empties. Easy to use and requires little management. Imported from Italy by; Beamsville, Ontario 905.563.8261 For sales on East Coast contact us directly. For sales on West Coast contact; 1.800.827.0972 Come and see it at Blueline's booth at the WSHA show and at the Provide Agro booth at the GLEXPO show!! GOOD FRUIT GROWER DECEMBER 2013 67

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