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Have You Been Robbed?

Posted By Jo Pentreath | March 15, 2021

John Wilton

I have heard that the Royal Gala group this year has not come up to expectations in regard to fruit size and crop volume. I have also noticed that many Royal Gala blocks are bristling with vigorous annual shoot growth.

There is a strong negative relationship between annual shoot growth, fruit set and in particular fruit sizing in apples.

Once you have sufficient leaf area to set and support the crop, any further leaf growth tends to be counter productive because it fuels further unwanted shoots, growth which competes with the fruit, shades reducing colour development and quality increases pruning costs.

Now is a good time to assess block behaviour in regard to cropping, vigour as well as begin to formulate a plan for the future. With the massive increase in labour costs that ben imposed on the apple industry it will be difficult for lower value varieties to continue to remain profitable. Where this is likely to be the case, pulling the trees out immediately after harvest will be your best option to reduce their drag on your cash flow.

Trees pulled out in full leaf rapidly dehydrate so when the weather will allow fires to be lit the trees will burn well.

Young, intensive blocks may be a grafting option. Grafting trees on dwarfing rootstocks can be very tricky, particularly where there are no lower branches to act as sap drawers. In the absence of sap drawers dormant grafting, where it is done correctly is the best option. As the bark does not readily lift in the dormant period rind grafting techniques are unsuitable for grafting at this stage, irrespective of what your grafters may try and tell you.

 

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