With apologies to Led Zeppelin, “Been dazed and confused, For so long, it’s not true”
Last month’s topic was winter chill, and how the prediction was for sufficient accumulation by the time our trees wake up in late winter or spring. A good theory and I hope that we are just in a flat patch (low accumulation) at present.
The Longlands and Twyford stations are at 622 and 644 RCU respectively today which is at the lower end of normal. For peach and nectarine we would be looking to get a score of somewhere around 800 Richardson Chill Units for normal development. A bit more than this is ideal for apples and cherries.
Bay View accumulation is at this stage rubbish. Today (19 July) the station has only accumulated 429 units when normal would be somewhere in the 700 units region.
Then add to this the water and silt that Gabrielle dumped, the trees are confused, and so am I. A visit to a couple of Bay View orchards earlier this week maybe indicative of what will happen in orchards across the plains, but I truly hope that it will not be so.
There is significant tree or parts of trees that have died, especially in one, two and tree year old trees. Some of them look to be totally gone apart from a twig or two.
Many of the trees that are alive have poor bud quality, these are skinny, and there is a bit of bud jump happening or may do so soon.
In some the majority of the block is still sleeping apart from a few trees. These few have early leaves, some lonely flowers and some with fruit the size of a thumb nail. The commonality seemed to be the lower spots in the block, so the more stressed trees within a stressed orchard.
Looping back to winter chilling, or the lack of it in Bay View, phenological stages seem to be delayed by about two weeks. There is a very early nectarine called MayGlo which never quite loses its leaves and flowers in the middle of winter, you may have seen it previously when driving to Taupo or Gisborne. There was flower thinning happening a year ago today. This year there are a few flowers visible, but the majority have yet to show themselves.
Will this be typical across the plains? Who knows, but I hope not. What messages do we send up the system to the likes of MPI and employment agencies? I guess this is a time to keep looking and to keep talking to each other. If Gabrielle has taught us anything its that working together is preferable to being siloed.
Summerfruit Technical Advisor