Good Fruit Grower

February 1

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Do cherries need water before harvest? 0% INTEREST for 60 MONTHS OR CHOOSE CASH BACK! On T4000 Series in stock Growers have conflicting opinions. by Geraldine Warner s irrigating cherry trees during the lead-up to harvest a good or a bad thing? Dr. Matt Whiting, cherry horticulturist with Washington State University in Prosser, says there are two schools of thought among growers. Some insist that stopping irrigation two or even three weeks before harvest is the way to produce high quality cherries. Others claim it's best to irrigate continuously up to the point of harvest. Whiting is proposing a two-year research project to resolve the issue and help growers improve cherry quality and, therefore, their profitability. He'll do trials in an attempt to understand the effects of near-harvest irrigation on key fruit quality traits, such as size and firmness and susceptibility to pitting. He plans to compare the effects of two irrigation regimes in commercial orchards, one in the southern part of the state and one north of Wenatchee. One irrigation regime will be regular irrigation right up to harvest. The other will not be irrigated for two to three weeks before harvest. During the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission's cherry research review, Whiting explained that data will be collected on several aspects in each orchard. Soil texture will be characterized and soil moisture will be monitored using a neutron probe at intervals of two to three days, beginning two weeks before the irrigation treatments begin. Tree stress will be assessed by using a pressure bomb to measure stem water potential. Photosynthesis, transpiration, and stomatal conductance will also be monitored. Whiting will measure shoot growth before and during the treatments. He will also look at how the treatments affect floral bud initiation and the following year's crop. Fruit growth will be monitored. Yield efficiency will be calculated and mature fruit will be evaluated for color, weight, soluble solids, firmness, size, stem retention force, and susceptibility to pitting. Ines Hanrahan, project manager for the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, will work with Whiting on the project, along with graduate student Nadia Valverdi, a Fulbright scholar from Argentina. I T4040V with Low Profile Cab The Ready to Roll Savings Event is in full swing, and that means you can get 0% financing for 60 months or cash back on select New Holland tractors: T4000V and T4000F Series Tractors (62 to 92 PTO hp) Get Ready to Roll now with outstanding deals! Program ends Stop by today, or visit for complete details. T4050F with Cab • THINNING DOESN'T always boost cherry size research project to find out whether Ethrel (ethephon) could be used as a postbloom thinner for cherries showed that the material can reduce the fruit load. But, perplexingly, having fewer cherries on the tree didn't always result in larger cherries, which is one of the main objectives of thinning. Dr. Matt Whiting, cherry horticulturist with Washington State University in Prosser, said there's a need to thin the crop on productive cherry varieties so they don't produce small fruit, and postbloom thinning allows growers to assess fruit set before adjusting the crop. Currently, the only reliable way to thin cherries after bloom is by hand thinning. Whiting conducted a two-year project in which he tested Ethrel at three rates (100, 200, and 300 parts per million) and four timings (shuck fall and one, two, and three weeks after shuck fall) on Sweetheart, Rainier, Lapins, Skeena, and Santina cherries. All the timings were before pit hardening. The tests were done in commercial and research orchards and funded by the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission. Ethrel was effective, particularly at higher rates and earlier timings, but Whiting said there seemed to be a disconnect between thinning efficacy and fruit size. For example, in tests with Sweetheart, shuck fall (the earliest) applications did thin the crop. But, whereas the 100 ppm rate increased fruit size by 6 percent, the 200 ppm rate had no effect on fruit size, and the 300 ppm rate reduced fruit size by 25 percent, despite reducing fruit set by 73 percent. In Lapins, however, fruit size was improved by almost every treatment, despite the inability of most treatments to thin the fruit. "Whiting also tested abscisic acid at 500 and 1,000 ppm, but found it to be generally ineffective as a thinner. In fact, later applications of ABA at 500 ppm in Sweetheart improved fruit set by roughly 10 to 14 percent. —G. 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