FARMVIEW Season 2 Episode 3.5
Episode 3.5 - Trellis and canopy management techniques
In times of drought and extreme weather it is important to maintain high levels of productivity to simply pay for the costs of production. Note Tatura trellis is one of the highest producing orchards in the world and given good management that the Tatura trellis can produce, not only high yields, but early yields. It is not unusual for a Tatura trellis to produce optimum yields in the second year after planting. The primer of the tree is kept small. Some trellis trees are only two meters high. The canopy is purposely kept shallow, so that light penetrates the canopy and the V-shape of the canopy ensures that we are optimising light interception and hence light interception can be converted into fruit production and quality.
Trellises, whether they are singular systems or whether they are V systems like Tatura, they can assist the grower in controlling damaging weather. Severe wind storms if you have your trees secured to a trellis structure, any of your fruiting looms secured to a trellis structure, you do not get this sort of damage, whereas a freestanding tree, you get things going like this, you can actually have 30% of your fruit drop off on a wind storm. Irregardless of system whether it is a singular system or a V system, what I am going to really focus on is, is that bit of wood that the fruit is produced on.
If we are growing fruit on a limb that stands freely the fruit is pretty resistant to sunburn as long as it does not change its position and as the fruit starts to grow the weight of the fruit will change the position and where this side was acclimatised to that heat when you suddenly expose a different part of the fruit, you get a sunburn. So what I am going to look to do is grow my fruit on very firm structures.
The trellising structure that we use for our dried fruit production is much more efficient than what it was say 15 years ago, now we are using a swing-arm trellis system which is much more labour efficient and it cuts the time of pruning and harvesting down dramatically.
We have to knock this arm out and this arm spring over when all the other ones are knocked out as well and these cropping kinds here are the following season's cropping kinds for next year.
With swing-arm trellis yields have marginally increased, but the main gain has been the labour that you require. For three people has enabled us to complete the harvest operation and last year we harvested 300 tonnes, so it is a hundred tonne of dried fruit per person. So that is a good illustration of the effectiveness of that type of trellis system that it does. Three people are also able to prune 65 acres of this type of trellis system, whereas previously you probably need two or three times as many people to cover that amount of ground.
The two main functions of the canopy in times of drought, firstly it is got to act as a source of photosynthesis to ripen the crop and ripen an economic crop. Secondly an extremely important role of canopy management during a drought is that it has to provide an adequate amount of shade, because typically during drought we see a high amount of sun exposure. So our aim is to right from the outset of the season from bud burst to promote a good, healthy canopy that provides adequate shade as the fruit develops and ripens, but it is also provides enough functioning leave that can develop enough sugars for us to produce a high quality wine. Having a good healthy functioning canopy is essential to make sure that fruit comes through extreme heat events still in marketable condition.
If you want to know more about this programme, contact your industry grower association or the DEPI customer service line - 136 186.