Good Fruit Grower

September 1

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 11 of 39

12 SEPTEMBER 2015 GOOD FRUIT GROWER A fter a conversation three years ago about potential yields in Washington apple orchards, Yakima orchardist Jim Doornink was worried. For many years, 35 to 50 bins per acre were considered normal yields because trees were grown on the central leader system. Now, growers were talking about yields of 90 bins per acre from high-density blocks, Doornink told members of the International Fruit Tree Association during a recent visit to his orchard. In 2009, Doornink planted a fi ve-acre block of Jazz, using the existing low V-trellis system to save money. The trees are 1.5 feet apart and 14 feet between rows (2,074 trees per acre), and he was concerned that the relatively wide row spacing would make it diffi cult to produce competitive yields. He decided to take a more analytical approach and began thinking in terms of apples per tree. At a tree density of 2,000 per acre, one apple per tree is equal to one bin of fruit per acre. So, a yield of 70 bins per acre requires 70 apples per tree. Last year, he counted buds in winter so that the pruning strategy could be based on the number and distribution of fruit buds on the trees and the target fruit number. Previously, the crew focused on the spatial dis- tribution or orientation of the limbs, removing those that were growing beyond their space or too far into the middle of the row, for example. The fruit number per tree was adjusted again during cluster thinning. Some clusters were removed and no more than one fl ower per cluster was retained. Next came hand fruit thinning. The result was a crop last year of more than 90 bins per acre. Doornink said that in a Gala block that was planted at the same time and with the same system as the Jazz, the aggressive cluster thinning they did this year looked like a huge mis- take at fi rst. "It looked like we would have no crop, but when it came time to thin, we had way too many apples on here," he said. Doornink and his son Phil grow cherries and pears as well as apples. The Gala trees were heavily hand thinned in early summer before workers had to shift to picking cherries, but by early July it needed more heavy thinning, he said. "And I still see places where there are too many fruit," he told the visitors. "I'm feeling, from one year's data, that we can do thinning at bloom time very aggressively and help our fruit size and help our workload," he added. "We have cherry harvest that really takes us out of the orchard at a time when we need to be doing things. If we do more thinning at bloom time, it will be better." He expected a yield of 70 to 75 bins from the Galas this year, depending on fruit size, but thinks 80 to 90 bins are possible. IFTA Washington State study tour Growers harvest more apples than they once thought possible. by Geraldine Warner PHOTOS BY TJ MULLINAX/GOOD FRUIT GROWER Above: Jim Doornink explains his production strategies to IFTA tour-goers who visited his Yakima, Washington, orchard this summer. Below: Doornink expected to harvest 70 to 75 bins of Galas this year. Doorninks share yield-boosting STRATEGIES

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Good Fruit Grower - September 1