Future Orchards Visit Victoria
Future Orchards is a project designed to increase production, lower orchard production costs per kilogram of fruit, increase the percentage of premium fruit harvested and brings Australian orchardists up to international competitiveness in the domestic and export markets. The orchard walks are important part of Future Orchards consisting of two parts, presentation and visit to one local orchard.
Southern Victoria Orchard Walk was held on Tuesday 13th of September 2016 at Apted’s Orchard, Kinglake West and Northern Victoria’s Orchard Walk was held on Monday 19th of September 2016 at Geoffrey Thompson’s Orchard, Coomboona. Despite rainy weather conditions, both events have been well attended.
The topics covered by guest speakers from AgFirst were chemical thinning and an update on the apple and pear industry’s Productivity, Irrigation, Pests and Soils (PIPS) program.
AgFirst consultants Steve Spark has joined the Southern Loop and Jonathan Brookes the Northern Loop. Brett Feehan who is also from AgFirst and based in Hawke’s Bay covered the PIPS extension component of Future Orchards
Chemical thinning is one of the most critical parts of orchard production and with so many factors in play, it is also one of the most complex. When left alone, apples and pears will naturally set heavy crops that lead to small, poor quality fruit and leave the tree with biennial bearing tendencies. To effectively intervene, growers normally need to shed 85-90 per cent of the crop.
While winter pruning will reduce excessive bud numbers, chemical thinning is very important to efficiently remove vast numbers of excessive fruit in the tree early. From mid-November, hand thinning starts, which improves the distribution of fruit in the canopy and sets the final crop load (APAL).
Presentations from Orchard Walks can be downloaded from APAL library http://apal.org.au/industry-info/future-orchards/future-orchards-library/