Spring is about to pop - Benton City, WA

Photo credit: M. Suderman

Spring is about to pop - Benton City, WA

Published Mar 14, 2018 in #SoilMatters  

Soil temperatures have risen 4-6F in the past week. This has signaled these Chelan #cherry buds to swell. This is an early ripening variety. Which means the number of days a farmer has to grow and nurture the crop are limited. This means every day counts from bloom until harvest and are critical to develop the fruit in preparation of harvest. For instance, an early variety may have 70-80 days from Full Bloom (pollination) until harvest. A week of cooler than normal weather, reduces the growing window by 10%. All early crops are vulnerable to the uncertain eastern Washington weather conditions; this can include cold temperatures, rain, hail, frost, etc. all of which can limit the amount AND quality of harvestable fruit to ship to stores.

Soil fertility applications can begin anytime based on the plant development stage. Roots are foraging just like a grizzly bear awakening from hibernation...hungry, thirsty and ready the ‘grow’.

Last fall, many orchards were not fertilized as usual due to a late harvest (~3 weeks) and an early snow. All efforts were focus d on getting fruit picked and into the packing house or C.A. storage. Basically, Postharvest fertility was cancelled and trees went into dormancy ‘hungry’. It’s the equivalent of going to bed without supper. Dormant plants’ sole energy (food) source is stored carbohydrates. These are built via photosynthesis in the previous growing season. The photosynthates needed for the upcoming crop are above the energy requirements of the current crop and stored until needed. When trees are overly stressed during the growing season, it has a direct effect on the current crop quality AND next crop’s potential too.

If this happened in your orchard(s), you likely have a plant-energy deficit going into the bloom stage. An energy deficit at bloom can reduce the viability of blossoms, limit pollination activity, cause premature abortions, etc. Regardless of the cause, it costs on the bottom line of profitability. Trees are well aware of the “available energy” stored for use and self-regulate accordingly. This can be a major limiting factor in setting a crop versus a really good crop.

With a well planned fertility program in place, you can produce tonnage without sacrificing quality. In Neoteric Agriculture, utilizing “plant-ready” nutrients delivers a higher level of use efficiency for a more positive crop response.