Good Fruit Grower

February 1

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8 FEBRUARY 1, 2016 GOOD FRUIT GROWER O regon cherry growers will continue to recover from a 2014 freeze by pruning to encourage healthy lower-branch structure in their orchards while balancing their need for fruit development. "Now it's just back to managing those canopies," said Dr. Todd Einhorn, research horticulturist at Oregon State University in Hood River. Einhorn and Gipp Redman, assistant orchard manager for Gilbert Orchards in Yakima, Washington, led a winter cherry pruning fi eld tour through three cherry orchards near The Dalles, Oregon, in December. The annual event focused on growers' continued recovery from a November 2014 cold snap, when tem- peratures plummeted to as low as 12 degrees below zero, knocking some trees back to the trunks. Steven Renquist, a Douglas County extension scientist with OSU, assisted. In the wake of the freeze, cherry growers in the areas around The Dalles and Hood River, home to roughly 12,300 of the state's 15,500 acres of sweet cherries, often had to prune trees back to the snow line to completely restart their trees. Some farmers harvested more than half their crops even after noticing severe browning on their spurs due to winter damage, Einhorn said. In spur samples, Einhorn found new xylem and phloem cells at bloom, which helped connect spurs to the rest of the tree, allowing those spurs to support fruit. Even when half the fl owers on a tree die, a grower can still produce a full crop with good fruit set. Growers may have lost a production year, but with good branch renewal they didn't have to rip all the trees out and re-establish the block, Einhorn said. Redman also was pleasantly surprised by the recovery. "I was once again struck by Mother Nature's ability to overcome almost total devastation and repair itself," he later told the Washington State Fruit Commission at its Dec. 16 meeting in Yakima. Renewal Today, as growers plan their winter and spring pruning, they fi nd themselves seeking a delicate balance between encouraging fruit this year and promoting overall tree growth for the future in areas where damage was substantial. Horticulture RECOVERY Oregon cherry Top the starts at about 9-10 feet in summer. Clean feathers off starts to allow for inside light. Leave about 30 starts on Mazzard but only 20 on Gisela to slow the tree's growth. Form the tree into a tabletop-like structure. Cut down the over-dominant leaders, or bulls. Prune for structure improvements during winter. Columbia River Gorge growers battle back from 2014 hard freeze damage. by Ross Courtney

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