Richard Mills, Summerfruit NZ Market Support
This time last year I mentioned that the first harvest is only a few weeks away, which is till true for this season, and that growing degree days were about 30 units ahead of the 2019-20 season. This year we are 30 units behind last year or put another way, very average. Last year we were already seeing brown paddocks on the local hills but not this time around. What we are needing is to keep the cover sprays interval nice and tight.
Bloom has generally, but not always been strong and pollination generally good although we wait to see the true extent of fruit drop. I have seen the odd block that has failed to set for whatever reason.
Last month I mentioned the agroecology project that Summerfruit and kiwifruit, among other top fruit crops, are involved with and how citrus is leading the project in Gisborne. The questions that I wanted to pose on your behalf were not asked, wrong forum, but there were some interesting insights that I have borrowed from the various presentations. From what is proposed, and should we take some of this on, there will be some very different looking orchard floors in the future. While Hawke’s Bay growers have not gone to wholesale planting of pollen and nectar producing plants yet, there are examples of changed orchard floor systems where straw has replaced herbicides, broadleaf only herbicides have taken over from total control, and where no herbicides are allowing grasses and flowering plants to share the space with fruit trees.
To remind ourselves of the potential benefits of beneficial insects check out these videos, perhaps on a large screen and with your children in attendance.
To help feed those beneficials the picture below illustrates a mock-up of a possible orchard floor with the SNAP vision taken to a logical conclusion. Shelter, Nectar, Alternative prey and Pollen. It’s worth a thought and I’m interested to see what we can share and learn as an orcharding community in Hawke’s Bay.