Seasonal Reports

Welcome to seasonal report. Here I will place my thoughts, problems and recommendations that I encounter during the year. This will be for the calendar year as to save overlap from one year to the next. I welcome any comments / feedback that anyone may have. I am always open to ideas.

Click on the relevant year to see that report.

 2001

2002

2003

2001

Harvesting started on the 4th January and finished on 7th February and had very few breakdowns what is always a bonus.  I was not so lucky with the weather. There was a lot of cloud around that slowed the ripening of the later varieties and we had enough rain to not require any irrigating. Unfortunately a southerly wind with gusts up to 120km/hr hit mid January. Thankfully  most of the ripe fruit had been harvested and I estimate I loss approximately 7 - 10 tonnes of fruit.

Autumn provided enough moisture so once again no irrigation was required and there was no problems with the currants. The usual clean up chemicals were applied. I applied Bio-Stim, a cold process fish fertiliser produced by Globe Export Fisheries Ltd here in Dunedin. This was applied as a drench to the ground to see if it will improve the breakdown of leaf & trash material, encourage worm activity and improve soil structure. A big ask you might say, but I have two friends that have applied this product, one in a pastoral farm and the other in a flower growing business both reporting good results. Also plant health has been excellent with little insect problems. I will be applying more next autumn before I look too hard for results. I also applied in a couple of blocks Agri SC, a soil conditioner and will continue a trial of this next year as well.

The winter was dry with a few hard frosts but winter chilling was 2054hrs. Better than last year but still would have liked more. Bud break was very even and with some very hot weather in late September to early October made the bush move quickly. Had very good blossom but like most good things the weather could not last and since the 6th October had cloudy skies and lots of showers. This has coursed a lack of pollination and a considerable run off of flowers. Botrytis then infected the dead material and since conditions have not improved this would be one of the worst years for Botrytis I have seen. You can see the results of this on the pictures page. Over all the Magnus and the younger bushes have an average crop but the Daniels are a mixed bag. I applied Switch on a trial basis and found this to be very affective, especially where two Switch were applied. If residue levels are acceptable then this should be allowed to be used extensively in the future. I also have a trial of Botry-Zen, a new biological control for Botrytis. The first application of this was late due to shortage of the product and had rain shortly after applying. It has not been as affective as I had hoped, but do not believe it has had a fair go and hope to be able to trial it again next year.

Weed control is excellent this year as I added Karmex to the ground spraying programme and this has taken out all the weeds that were resistant to Simazine and Gardoprim. As I write this (5/12/01) it is still raining and hope for a clearance in the weather as soon as possible.

Started harvesting on the 27/12/01 and rain, rain and more rain. Thats all I have to say about the end of this year!!

2002

Well as stated above it is a wet harvest. There have been very few days where it hasn't rained or drizzled. Staff are wearing wet weather gear on the harvester as I have to keep harvesting as Botrytis is a major problem. The property is wet and muddy and the crop is down but at least the harvester went without a break down. Finished harvesting on the 24/1/02 and that is all I have to say about that one!!

Since harvesting finished the weather picked up and had and average Autumn. Very little weed control was required since the good results from the application of Karmex in Spring. Post harvest chemicals were Vydate L, Copper, Kelthane, Peropal, Berri-wiser and Perk.

Autumn dried out nicely and managed to tidy up the wheel ruts with the power harrow. Unfortunately in late April we had 90mm of rain that made a paddock that was ready for planting to go to 300mm of slurry. This was the start of a wet winter with little to no drying. It was wet into August (which in normally one of my dryer months) that delayed all tractor work until September. Fertiliser and herbicides were applied late with some blocks being done with some flower around. Far to late but soil moisture was far to high for earlier application.

Good bud break but a little uneven and seven days early. Had a -3.1 degree frost on the 4th October, -2.8 degree on 7th October, -2 degree on the 8th October  and a -3 degree on the 15th October. All these were long frosts starting around midnight except for the frost on the 8th which was from about 4am. Stage of growth was grape to early flower. I used what overhead sprinklers I have on all frosts and this worked well. I had two Jetranger helicopters flying for the frost on the 15th. One helicopter from 2:30am flying in +5.5 degree but at 4:30am was flying in +2 degree so called in a second helicopter. The result is varied as the temperatures was not raised as much as I would like that is shown from the data logger in the block the helicopter was flying in. Click here to see the datalogger graph. I have found in the area the helicopters worked (10ha) that the younger bushes have less frost damage but the older bushes were affected. This was a 9 hour frost!! Have also been trialing a product called Teric for frost control but have found no advantage in using Teric. In fact I would say it is a disadvantage as it has burned off leaf that would have been protecting the flowers.  My personal preference for frost control is

  1. Water is best
  2. Helicopters when there is a warm inversion layer
  3. do nothing
  4. Teric.

The early varieties were the worst affected by the frosts, particularly the older varieties. I could see the frost damage later in the day of the 15th Oct on the flowers at the top of the bush. Over time more and more were flowers were dying through out the whole bush. I first thought this was due to the helicopters pushing the air into the bush but found this also in blocks where the helicopters hadn't flown. I can remember a frost some years ago that did considerable damage but was hard to tell how much damage due to wind following the frost within a week. This time round there was no wind and this showed that the flowers continually died up to 3 weeks. I wonder how many smaller frosts other growers and myself get that we think has done no damage but has without us knowing, and then we put flower die off down to poor pollination 3-4 weeks latter.

November was a wet month but didn't create much of a problem with fungi. Fortunately this year we are allowed to use Euparen Multi and Switch for Botrytis that is very affective. Switch is the best product and certainly saved a major botrytis problem. I also tried Botry-Zen again and the trial showed a small infection of Botrytis but shows promise.

December was an average month for rainfall but sunshine was lacking.

2003

Started harvesting a very poor crop of Magnus on 2nd January and moved through the hectares quickly. Never got any better tonnages until the later varieties. The weather was very good and never had one breakdown.

Autumn was dry and I had to irrigate more than normal. Completed the usual cleanup sprays, this year mainly used Peropal for Two Spotted Spider Mite and Gusathion as a cheap "kill everything else" option.

Pulled 2 blocks and are now ready for replanting of Magnus and Ben Rua. Have also installed more overhead sprinklers (some in established blocks) and will continue to do so as I remove blocks.

Winterchilling has been lacking up to now with only a couple of frosts and warm days. The only exception to this has been the last couple of days where we have a small amount of snow on the surrounding hills and had a minus 9-degree frost yesterday and today has been cloudy and cold. Great for winter chilling.

As I write this (29/6/03) it is still surprisingly dry for this time of year and is well short of our normal rainfall. I am hoping it doesn't come during flower.


More Later