Winter pruning with Metrics

Posted By HBFA | June 19, 2024

Winter pruning with Metrics

By Meg Becker

Winter pruning is arguably the most important time of year on orchard as it provides the opportunity to start fresh, clean the block up and set the tree up for next season’s crop.

Manipulating the tree at pruning helps to achieve specific crop outcomes including fruit size, fruit colour and fruit quality, as well as allowing you to influence downstream costs such as thinning, summer pruning and harvest.

It is important to understand your longterm goal for each block, as well having a sound understanding of what steps you are wanting to achieve over the next 12 months.

What is your crop target?  Are you trying to increase fruit size? Are you trying to reduce thinning costs?  Do you need to manage vigour, or are you trying to drive canopy growth?

Understanding this prior to carrying out your pruning allows you to alter the timing of pruning, and set instruction to target specific bud numbers, wood texture, light optimisation, and vigour response.  Pruning allows growers to manipulate carbohydrate partitioning in the tree to achieve a common goal.

Now the important question… what Metrics can be collected to help support educated decisions that will ensure pruning is achieving specific block targets and taking any guesswork out of growing.

The Metrics in order of importance/ease of collection:

They key to data collection is understanding within block variability and selecting trees/areas that represent it.

These metrics help growers make educated decisions giving confidence that the instruction sets the canopy up with the optimum outcome. Backing up your growing decisions with informed data helps to minimise the ‘gut feel’ mistakes, helping you to maximise your production, profit and price for the upcoming season.

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