Dr. Lee Kalcsits with WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center recently spent some time talking about how water stress affects tree fruit and some of the ways to manipulate and manage those situations.
KALCSITS: Some of the brief symptoms of water stress, how's that affect production. So you get decreased yield through decreases in fruit size. You can have curling of leaves, loss of productivity, loss of photosynthesis because of the trees are stressed. You can have situations under more severe stress where leaves are falling off in the shaded areas of the tree.
He says there are some critical times when you should not have water stress.
KALCSITS: From full bloom to four weeks after full bloom during that early cell division stage when the fruit is developing all the numbers of cells it needs that will later expand and develop into full-sized, marketable fruit later on in the season and then the last two weeks to 30 days before harvest when you have that final fruit maturation you don't want water stress because that determines quality, that determines filling size.
There are some very practical approaches to mitigating water usage in the orchard.
KALCSITS: One of the things that growers can do is maintain that weed free strip, weeds use a lot of water. So you can also start using mulches to retain moisture in the soil. Mow the cover crops. Cover crops produce a lot of leaf area and that leaf area is all transpiring, it's all using water, releasing water.
Another key element is watering the roots of the trees.
That's today's Fruit Grower Report. I'm Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network of the West.