Reducing the impact of late season rainfall (CY12000)
What was it all about?
This project sought to reduce crop damage and the impact of late-season rainfall on cherry production. Specifically, researchers aimed to avoid cherry cracking by preventing rapid and excess water uptake to fruit following rainfall events and to build fruit resilience before rainfall.
This approach represents a shift in thinking about cherry cracking from a reactive approach when rain is imminent to a holistic year-round approach.
A number of trials were undertaken, building on results of earlier project Improving marketable yield of premium quality cherries (CY09002).
The researchers found that building resilience in fruit early in the season helps to reduce the impact of rainfall late in the season when fruit is most susceptible to cracking. However, no practical options to reduce the rapid uptake of rainfall late in the season were revealed – ground covers will slow uptake but are not suited to current systems, vascular tissue stays connected and functional throughout fruit maturation, and root pruning late in the season is not viable.
Methods for building early resilience included maintaining cuticular and skin integrity and strength, enhanced by a comprehensive calcium program to allow calcium uptake early in fruit development.
Maintaining irrigation was key to reduce excessive diurnal shrinking and swelling of fruit during development, and to avoid trees being water stressed coming into a rainfall event. Managing crop load, and considering the growth rate of fruit early in fruit development, is also a recommendation of the project.
This project has been funded by Hort Innovation
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