Good Fruit Grower

December 2012

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Page 48 of 79

Orchard Economics Prune for size To produce fruit that the market wants, you must know what your objectives are when and nectarines of high quality. There is no money in growing small fruit. To produce the sizes of peaches and nectarines that the mar- V ket wants, you must know exactly what you are doing when you prune your trees in winter, and three or four months later when you thin the fruit. To prune your trees correctly, you must first know how many fruit of marketable size your trees can and should produce. The whole process starts with the number of laterals that the trees have grown. Laterals that are about 300 millimeters long and have triple buds (two fruit buds with a leaf bud in between) are the foundation of your next crop. Since peach and nectarine trees you prune your trees in winter. by Bas van den Ende irtually everything that you do in the orchard affects the quality of fruit, so you must always keep size, maturity, and taste in mind. Large fruit brings more money than small fruit does. Not all of that is profit, because it costs more to produce large fruit. The market demands that you consistently grow large peaches only bear fruit on maiden (new) laterals, you actually have to manage two crops in the one year: the fruit that grows in the com- ing season and the laterals for the crop in the season thereafter. Large peaches and nectarines grow only on laterals of good qual- ity. Watershoots, spent laterals, and short, thin laterals do not pro- duce large fruit and contribute to shading. The flowers and fruit that these shoots and laterals produce rob the tree in spring of valuable reserves of nutrients and carbohydrates. Get rid of these watershoots and inferior laterals. Prune your reference trees Plan your pruning before your pruners start on the trees. Prune ten reference trees yourself. Mark them clearly with paint, so that you can refer back to them any time of the year and also show them to your pruners and thinners. When you prune ten trees yourself, you will see how well or how badly good laterals are distributed throughout the trees. The upper part of the tree usually has the most and best laterals. The lower part of the tree, which can be excessively shaded, often struggles to generate good productive laterals. The shade that the Producing fruit today requires higher and higher degrees of innovation. Profit margins are small, and quality demands are high. Exact standards and specifications regarding fruit size, skin color, texture, firmness and concentration of sugar, shelf life, and blemishes must be met. GOOD FRUIT GROWER DECEMBER 2012 49

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