Stone Fruit: Are You Stressed?

Stone Fruit: Are You Stressed?

When you drive through the orchard and see trees that are performing poorly or dying, it can be a source of tremendous stress to you as a grower. For the trees you just observed, they too, may be experiencing significant stress!

Plant stress is driven by numerous factors that adversely affect plant health, growth, productivity, and survival. Some stress factors directly impact tree assimilate dynamics (acquisition and utilization of water, nutrients, energy, and carbohydrates — see figure). These factors are living (biotic) or non-living (abiotic). Often, multiple stress factors can occur simultaneously or successively. Some stresses are chronic (systemic viral infection) while others may be acute (temporary drought).

Avoiding Stress

The first key to managing orchard stress is to avoid it in the first place through good management. Indeed, many stressful orchard conditions can be avoided if you choose a good site, pre-plant fumigate the soil, and choose the proper rootstock. Further, choosing the correct cultivar based on chill hours for your region and pest/disease tolerance is vital. Planting trees at the proper soil depth (graft union 4 inches above soil line) is necessary to keep feeder roots in the proper soil zone and to enhance tree stability.

Careful use of orchard machinery and proper timing and use of pruning tools can minimize damage to tree trunks and promote rapid healing of wounds on scaffold branches and limbs, respectively. Proper crop load management through pruning and thinning can facilitate strong scaffolds that won’t break under the pressure of a heavy crop. Finally, careful weed, pest, and disease management combined with adequate water and fertility can help to keep trees productive and healthy.

When speaking about orchard stress, it is also important to make several distinctions. It may be localized (part of a single tree or a few trees near each other) or it may be widespread (hundreds of trees in a low spot where there was standing water). One type of stress can exacerbate another — for example, trees that have been hit by hail causing numerous bark and trunk wounds provide attractive sites for lesser peach tree borer females to lay eggs or disease entry.

Some types of stress are reversible (i.e., nitrogen deficiency) while others (systemic viral infection) will persist throughout the life of the tree. It is also important to consider the timing of stress relative to key phenological growth stages. For fruit during the period of final swell (last two weeks before harvest), drought stress could have a very significant adverse impact on final fruit size. In severe cases of heat/drought stress, trees may actually drop fruit prematurely.

Identifying Stress

A key to managing orchard stress is being able to identify what is occurring with the goal of rectifying the situation or managing it to the greatest extent possible. There are numerous biotic stresses that adversely impact peach trees. These include insects, fungal diseases, bacterial diseases, viruses, viroids, mycoplasmas, nematodes, weeds, and even browsing animals (i.e., deer). There are numerous abiotic stresses, as well. These include solar radiation (sunburn), air and soil temperature (too hot or cold), inadequate chilling, rainfall (too much or too little), soil pH (too high or low; 6-7 usually best), soil nutrition (deficiency or excess), soil structure and aeration, excess wind, hail, herbicide drift, and even air pollution (ozone, sulfur dioxide, and hydrogen fluoride).

Finally, it is of vital importance to deal with factors that you can control and to consider the long-term impact on the tree. For example, if a block is compromised by hail, abandoning it until next year without a minimal fungicide/insecticide program to protect the tree and help minimize wound infection or boring of insects would be unwise. Some modest efforts could help to facilitate healing and significant recovery for cropping next year. Keeping good records from one year to the next by block will help to remind you of trees that had problems, what corrective measures were taken, and what the response was. Lastly, try to learn from and not repeat errors. We all make them but the wise person learns from them and doesn’t repeat them.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
GAA winner Pero 2015
Farm Management
July 25, 2016
Seven Reasons You Need To Attend The United Fresh Washington Conference
Education sessions and Capitol Hill visits will focus on key issues, such as labor, facing the fresh produce industry. Read More
Photo by Rosemary Gordon
Tomatoes
July 25, 2016
New Research Uncovers Gene That May Be Key To Expanding Tomato Shelflife
Scientists identify a gene that encodes an enzyme which plays a pivotal role in controlling tomato softening. Read More
watermelon field R Gordon
Crop Protection
July 25, 2016
Organic Insect Control Product Available From BioWorks
The mycoinsecticide is EPA registered and controls a variety of insect pests. Read More
Marty McKenna presented with the 2016 Citrus Achievement Award
Citrus Achievement Award
July 25, 2016
Citrus Achievement Award Winner: Adapting To Challenges Has Its Rewards
Marty McKenna says hurdles like HLB forces growers to step up their game, which is a good thing. Read More
Marco Rubio tours a Central Florida citrus grove with industry dignitaries
Insect & Disease Update
July 22, 2016
Marco Rubio Backs Bill To Save Florida Citrus
Senator co-sponsors measure that would provide growers with incentives to plant more trees. Read More
Holly Rippon-Butler
GenNext Growers
July 22, 2016
Farming’s Next Generation Seeking Room To Grow
Several innovative resources are available to help first-time growers acquire the property they need. Read More
Live music woman playing guitar free image FEATURE
Farm Marketing
July 22, 2016
How To Book A Great Band For Your Festivals
Want to add live music to your fall festivals? Here's a step-by-step guide on how to find the right band for the right price. Read More
Valery Cordrey on a radio show
Farm Marketing
July 22, 2016
How To Entice The Local Press To Cover Your Farm Market
Sometimes getting publicity for your business is easier than you think. All you need to do is figure out how Read More
cantaloupe
Cucurbits
July 22, 2016
California Cantaloupe Growers To Celebrate First-Ever “Cantaloupe Week”
The Golden State’s cantaloupes are now in peak production from major areas in the San Joaquin Valley. Read More
The Latest
Farm Management
July 25, 2016
Seven Reasons You Need To Attend The Uni…
Education sessions and Capitol Hill visits will focus on key issues, such as labor, facing the fresh produce industry. Read More
Tomatoes
July 25, 2016
New Research Uncovers Gene That May Be K…
Scientists identify a gene that encodes an enzyme which plays a pivotal role in controlling tomato softening. Read More
Crop Protection
July 25, 2016
Organic Insect Control Product Available…
The mycoinsecticide is EPA registered and controls a variety of insect pests. Read More
Citrus Achievement Award
July 25, 2016
Citrus Achievement Award Winner: Adaptin…
Marty McKenna says hurdles like HLB forces growers to step up their game, which is a good thing. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
July 22, 2016
Marco Rubio Backs Bill To Save Florida C…
Senator co-sponsors measure that would provide growers with incentives to plant more trees. Read More
GenNext Growers
July 22, 2016
Farming’s Next Generation Seeking …
Several innovative resources are available to help first-time growers acquire the property they need. Read More
Farm Marketing
July 22, 2016
How To Book A Great Band For Your Festiv…
Want to add live music to your fall festivals? Here's a step-by-step guide on how to find the right band for the right price. Read More
Farm Marketing
July 22, 2016
How To Entice The Local Press To Cover Y…
Sometimes getting publicity for your business is easier than you think. All you need to do is figure out how Read More
Cucurbits
July 22, 2016
California Cantaloupe Growers To Celebra…
The Golden State’s cantaloupes are now in peak production from major areas in the San Joaquin Valley. Read More
Farm Marketing
July 22, 2016
Find Out Where Growers Want To Sell Thei…
Earlier this year, we asked farm marketers which of their current business channels they would like to increase. Not surprisingly, Read More
Cucurbits
July 21, 2016
Study Shows Buckwheat Can Help Stifle Sq…
Unique cover crop choice attracts beneficial bugs, increasing pollination prospects and reducing insect threats. Read More
Citrus
July 21, 2016
Farm Labor Delays Taking Toll On Crops […
When it comes down to it, we have a choice to make. We either have to import our labor, or we'll have to import our food. Read More
Citrus
July 20, 2016
My First Trip To Cuba Proves Fruitful
The five-day journey was enlightening, providing participants with a better perspective of the state of agriculture in this country 90 miles off Florida’s coast. Read More
More Vegetables
July 19, 2016
So You Think You Can Grow Artichokes In …
Field trials are in progress to determine if this highly sought-after superfood can survive the swelter of the Sunshine State. Read More
Citrus
July 19, 2016
Funds Allocated To Address Impact Of Cli…
NIFA announces $8.4 for study and development of new approaches to mitigate effects of climate change. Read More
Disease Control
July 19, 2016
Open Your Eyes To Common Smut In Sweet C…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this formidable fungus. Read More
Crop Protection
July 18, 2016
Early Infection Of Downy Mildew Confirme…
The pathogen has been confirmed in Michigan cucumbers in Bay County for the 2016 season. Read More
Citrus
July 18, 2016
USDA Awards More Than $26 Million For Af…
The funding is to support more than 400 rental units in four states. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]