The dry and recovery from it

At last, the rains have arrived. If I was good to you I’d look up the statistic and quote numbers, however in reality we know it’s been dry. On my orchard records indicate we’ve had 77mm rain since November start. This has been in doses on 1ml and 2ml quick showers. We had one of 5ml, so no real impact. We don’t irrigate the avocado trees.

Talking to an old-time local he’s quoted as saying this year is the worst rainfall in the 100 years. We notice Kauri Point, Ongare and Tanner points are amongst the dried area in the Western Bay of Plenty. The issue is what do we do now? I feel this dry will impact my orchard for up to three years.
We are carrying very heavy crops in that district. Probably typical of over-cropping. With no rainfall we’ve had no sizing. Fruit on my tree are very small. I’ll be looking at a very late harvest.

In addition to this we’ve had six spotted mite impacting trees late in the season. Defoliation was starting to occur not only from the pest issue but also lack of water and over-cropping. The trees are super stressed.

So we are doing the following. Injecting to prevent further winter issue; pruning to reduce tree mass load on the root system; and lightening the cropping load significantly to reduce nutrient demand.  We’re also have a targeted nutrient programme, with Nitrogen, other minerals, both foliar and ground applications, and we’re are using seaweed, fish fertiliser, compost and soil conditioners to help with recovery. We’re watching the timing of all this to ensure we get it on with good rainfalls and improved moisture.

We will review again after winter and are likely to inject all trees.

It’s been very interesting watching the drought grow, expand and impact with time. Initially, you take some small actions as you recognise the impact of lack of soil moisture; and increasingly you take more and bigger actions as the time without rainfall increases. Crystal ball gazing – this is one year we all wish we had irrigation.

So keeping the fruit growing steadily across the whole season is the key. This season has required a real rummage to the bottom of the toolbox to pull out all the tactics, knowledge, experience that can be useful. It’s also been beneficial talking to others to check your own actions are the best and what we can do better.

We’re now looking forward to some good steady rains during next few months, and also to our learnings from this last year.


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