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Greg Martin 05/26/05 Water stress - what to know, Pt. 2
by Greg Martin, click here for bio

Program: Fruit Grower Report
Date: May 26, 2005

Usually the processes of nature, all work together to produce the quality and abundance of tree fruit we have in the Northwest. In a potential drought year like this one is shaping up to be, the lack of precipitation throws things out of balance. But even with reports of extreme cases of drought prevention in areas like the Yakima Valley, for the most part, experts like Matt Whiting of Washington State Universitys Prosser Research Station says trees in the fruit growing region should not need to be cut to prepare for next year. In fact, most growers should get quality production this year. But that leads to the question of just how much water is needed for growers to produce a crop with significant fruit size and quality. Whitings answer stems from years of water deficit and water stress research on fruit trees.

WHITING: We found out one of the simplest conclusions was that trees just need less water than you think. Different for different crops and theres certainly different conditions that are going to affect that but overall, I think as a general rule, its less than you think.

But that magic mark of how much water the crop needs really depends on a lot a variables such as sun, wind, rainfall, soil, etc...; items that could be measured through various models available through research and extension programs. But Whiting cautions there are visible signs for growers to be aware of & decline in fruit size and yield are obvious signs of water stress. But the question remains when is the most critical time to water tree fruits to avoid loss of size, quality, and yield. A potential answer is shared in our next program.

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