A panel of growers shared their experiences managing crop load during today’s afternoon session at the Washington State Tree Fruit Association annual meeting.
Everything is based on having a bloom target, Washington State University researcher Matt Whiting said in opening the session.
Washington Fruit and Produce determines trunk cross sectional area to determine crop load in years one through six in an orchard, to ensure a young block isn’t overcropped, slowing growth, Andrew Del Rosario said.
Mike Robinson of BMR Orchards said he follows a similar path, though more informally, without advanced spreadsheets to track all of the findings. “How do you get a consistent crop? Part of it is getting pruning right and having a plan,” he said.
Brent Huck of Stemilt noted growers must first make sure the tree is balanced, with competition limbs, otherwise the numbers will be skewed.
WSU’s Vince Jones reminded growers about models available under the Decision Aid System, including additional flower phenology data—three cultivars already with five more in progress, such as the new WSU-bred apple variety WA 38, to be sold under the name Cosmic Crisp.
Honeybee foraging models are also available, as well as models for sunburn browning, storage scald and various diseases and pests.
During a session on organics, two experts shared that a diligent scouting program is one of the most critical components to growing organic tree fruit.