Drought management and pruning
Note Number: AG1396
Published: Feburary 2010
Updated: May 2013
Orchardists should make sure they are working in the most productive blocks on their orchards just in case the seasonal predictions of a dry season do eventuate.
Set aside major planning days with all the key people involved in the business and determine where the most important effort and money is directed in the few weeks heading into spring.
Prune best blocks first
Ensure all work done and money spent is on the most lucrative prospects for your business in the coming season! Work on the best blocks first. If rainfall conditions change during July and August, there is still time to do all the pruning.
Priorities for winter and spring
Prune the highest returning blocks with the best bud wood first!
If winter is dry again, decide before pruning is finished if all trees will be productive enough to spend money on pruning them at all this season. If water is very short in the worst case scenario, save the money on pruning less profitable blocks and sacrifice those blocks to buy extra water for your more profitable blocks.
Target weeds to conserve rainfall stored in the soil for early root growth in late winter.
Delay replanting new trees if a decision needs to be made to conserve irrigation resources. They can be planted into your own nursery rows on drip tape. If planting out in the orchard is the only option, drippers may be an alternative to micro-jets or sprinklers.
The difficult decisions about which fruit blocks to take through to harvest can be made as the seasonal rainfall pattern unfolds over the months leading up to the start of the irrigation season.
It will then be clearer what winter rainfall has occurred and will give some idea of irrigation inflows into the Murray and Goulburn storage systems.
This will help make decisions on which blocks to continue to prune, or which blocks to pull out as more up-to-date information on irrigation allocations becomes available later in winter and early spring. The aim is to get the most productive trees through to commercial fruit harvest next summer.
The important message is to prune your best blocks first.
Published and Authorised by:
Department of Environment and Primary Industries
1 Spring Street
This publication is copyright. No part may be reproduced by any process except in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright Act 1968.
The advice provided in this publication is intended as a source of information only. Always read the label before using any of the products mentioned. The State of Victoria and its employees do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information in this publication