Twelve ways to ruin a prune orchard.

Franz Niederholzer, UCCE Farm Advisor, Colusa and Sutter/Yuba Counites

Orchard economics are increasingly tight. Good production of large fruit and sustained tree health are critical to maintaining profitable production. The following points highlight problems I’ve seen in orchards in the region over 20 years. Doing some of these “don’ts” shouldn’t mean the orchard is doomed, but each of these points can contribute to orchard decline.

  1. Prune or hedge when rain is in the 10-day weather forecast.
  2. If pruning or hedging ahead of rain, don’t apply fungicide (Topsin-M, etc.) on pruning cuts.
  3. Use bench cuts to “open up” the interior of the tree to sunlight (and sunburn and disease).
  4. Don’t monitor orchard moisture status (tree or soil) through the season.
  5. Don’t check crop load at reference date.
  6. Don’t thin if crop load check shows too much crop.
  7. Don’t control gophers in the orchard.
  8. Don’t use white paint on SW side of tree trunks to reduce sunburn, especially on young trees.
  9. Don’t monitor for/control scale.
  10. Don’t take summer leaf samples.
  11. Don’t apply potassium when leaf samples show a need.
  12. Don’t supervise harvest operation in person, especially the new hire shaker operator.


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