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
heartland-events-corn-maze-feature
Farm Marketing
September 29, 2016
Kids Up For Adoption Get A Boost From Heartland Maze
The Heartland Maze has gone the extra mile and created a maze design that promotes a cause. Together with a Read More
plate-of-the-union-screen-cap-feature
Farm Marketing
September 29, 2016
Coalition To Presidential Candidates: Reform America’s Food System
The coalition Plate Of The Union would like local farms to play a more central roll in U.S. food policy. Read More
A thorough assessment of nematode populations by conducting soil sampling and laboratory examination is essential before deciding on soil fumigation.  (Photo credit:  Almond Board of California)
Nuts
September 29, 2016
Use Soil Sampling To Inform Your Almond Orchard Fumigation Decisions
Whether planting on new ground or replanting, sizing up the enemy — nematodes — is a must. Read More
The team at Sawmill Creek Vineyards which includes Tina Hazlitt, Jason Hazlitt, Ryan Yaskulski, Courtney Griffin, and Eric Hazlitt take great pride in their vineyard, knowing their customers have come to depend the vineyard’s attention to detail. (Photo credit: Christina Herrick)
Grapes
September 29, 2016
Vinifera Finds A Home In The Finger Lakes
In a region known for spectacular sights, varieties are making their mark, just ask the team at Sawmill Creek Vineyards. Read More
Accuweather Winter 2016-2017 forecast map
Citrus
September 29, 2016
Winter Is Coming, And It Could Get Wicked
Forecast sees heightened freeze threat for Florida citrus; frequent snow to blast Northeast. Read More
Spring Valley Farms in Umatilla, FL, from a drone
Citrus
September 29, 2016
Celebrate National Farmer’s Day Every Day
Florida agriculture has a compelling story to tell every day, but what better time to tell it than National Farmer’s Day? Read More
Photo credit: Christina Herrick
Stone Fruit
September 28, 2016
New Research Gets To The Bottom Of Cherry Cracking
German researchers hope to identify root causes of rain-induced problem. Read More
Part of a sustainable cropping system includes desiging fields to wrap around hilly terrain to limit runoff and soil erosion.  Photo credit: Rosemary Gordon
Farm Management
September 28, 2016
Grants Available For Sustainable Ag In The West
More than $1 million is marked for grants to study, demonstrate, and improve sustainable ag practices. Read More
Organic farmer on tractor
Equipment
September 28, 2016
Small Tractor Sales On The Rebound
Retail sales of tractors under 40 horsepower gained more than 21% last month, while sales of larger tractors continued their double-digit declines. Read More
NOAA Temperature Outlook For Winter 2015-2016
Farm Management
September 28, 2016
The Time For Climate Change Denial Is Over [Opinion]
Extreme cold, droughts, flooding, record-setting temperatures have all been a part of this year’s growing season. Read More
The Latest
Farm Marketing
September 29, 2016
Kids Up For Adoption Get A Boost From He…
The Heartland Maze has gone the extra mile and created a maze design that promotes a cause. Together with a Read More
Farm Marketing
September 29, 2016
Coalition To Presidential Candidates: Re…
The coalition Plate Of The Union would like local farms to play a more central roll in U.S. food policy. Read More
Nuts
September 29, 2016
Use Soil Sampling To Inform Your Almond …
Whether planting on new ground or replanting, sizing up the enemy — nematodes — is a must. Read More
Grapes
September 29, 2016
Vinifera Finds A Home In The Finger Lake…
In a region known for spectacular sights, varieties are making their mark, just ask the team at Sawmill Creek Vineyards. Read More
Citrus
September 29, 2016
Winter Is Coming, And It Could Get Wicke…
Forecast sees heightened freeze threat for Florida citrus; frequent snow to blast Northeast. Read More
Citrus
September 29, 2016
Celebrate National Farmer’s Day Ev…
Florida agriculture has a compelling story to tell every day, but what better time to tell it than National Farmer’s Day? Read More
Stone Fruit
September 28, 2016
New Research Gets To The Bottom Of Cherr…
German researchers hope to identify root causes of rain-induced problem. Read More
Farm Management
September 28, 2016
Grants Available For Sustainable Ag In T…
More than $1 million is marked for grants to study, demonstrate, and improve sustainable ag practices. Read More
Equipment
September 28, 2016
Small Tractor Sales On The Rebound
Retail sales of tractors under 40 horsepower gained more than 21% last month, while sales of larger tractors continued their double-digit declines. Read More
Farm Management
September 28, 2016
The Time For Climate Change Denial Is Ov…
Extreme cold, droughts, flooding, record-setting temperatures have all been a part of this year’s growing season. Read More
Fruits
September 27, 2016
Focusing On Phenomics In Specialty Crops
It’s not just the nature of your crops — the genomics — it’s also how they are nurtured. Read More
Grower Achievement Award
September 27, 2016
Tasteful Selections Is The Recipient Of …
The award was presented to Bob Bender of Tasteful Selections Sept. 13 at United Fresh's Washington Conference. Read More
Fruits
September 27, 2016
Rodale Institute Launches An Organic Far…
A new national organization for organic growers is designed to provide advocacy, the latest research and education, and information-sharing among farmers. Read More
Farm Management
September 27, 2016
Politicians May Be Taking Ag For Granted…
Growers have become masters at ensuring a steady food supply, but warning, politicians: Ignore them at your peril. Read More
Citrus
September 26, 2016
Presidential Candidates Comment On Agric…
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump weigh in on a number of topics of concern to growers. Read More
Apples & Pears
September 26, 2016
New Apple Variety Is One Stemilt Hopes C…
University of Minnesota apple variety will be grown and packed exclusively by Stemilt. Read More
Grapes
September 26, 2016
Where Site And Growing System Meet In Th…
Vineyard manager uses growing systems to control vigor of winegrape varieties. Read More
Fruits
September 26, 2016
San Jose Scale Is An Old Pest That Is A …
Growers see increase in infestations due to changes in chemical control programs. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]