As I write this, I’m trying to summarise in my mind the spring conditions that are likely to unfold and the management plans that need to be in place and ready to go. Rainfall since Jan 1 this year is 20% below normal and subsoils are drier than normal. This will probably increase fruit set as often our subsoils are saturated coming out of winter, certainly not this year.
Frost risk is higher with drier soils and the number of frost days this spring is already well above average. Ensure all frost mitigation measures are well set up and maintained, we might need them this year.
With the most recent Delta outbreak reminding us that the issues with COVID are far from over, labour supply uncertainty continues to be the major challenge for fruit growers and packers. Great chemical thinning will be required again this spring to avoid the risk of large hand thinning requirements with limited labour. Make sure you use the next 2 weeks wisely and have your 2021 chemical strategies all in place. Scrutinise last years program, what worked, what didn’t, and make a plan now. Then as the season unfolds, walk your blocks regularly and tweak the plan for the flower and conditions.