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Post-Harvest Irrigation: A Future Investment

A farmer's work is never done and although many growers in the northern hemisphere have finished harvest, now comes post-harvest, a critical period that has an immense effect on next year's yields and orchard health.

Information Provided by Phytech Agronomy Expert, Ido Gardi.

"Each stage of the season has its unique challenges in terms of irrigation planning." explains Ido Gardi, Head of Agronomy Research at Phytech "After harvest trees' water demand and evapotranspiration rates drop, thus many growers take their foot a bit off the "irrigation pedal", not wanting to waste precious water and fertilizers".

But under-irrigation can backfire and affect next season's yield. As we explained in our previous AlmondBeat Post-Harvest Guide, maintaining good growth with proper irrigation and fertigation is key to trees' productivity. Avoiding stress will promote a high growth rate and carbohydrate synthesis and storage which directly impacts bud development, dormancy, and flowering in the spring. Using soil moisture trend maps, overirrigation can be avoided and fertilizer leaching can be monitored.

Adequate carbohydrate reserves are crucial for almond trees to enter and sustain dormancy during the winter months. During dormancy, metabolic activity slows down, and the tree conserves energy. Carbohydrates stored in the roots and woody tissues provide the necessary sustenance for the tree during this period. Stress-induced carbohydrate depletion can disrupt dormancy and result in erratic bud break in the spring.

"Take for example the 2021 season in California," says Gardi, "When autumn temperatures were relatively still high during February. Trees that were suffering low-growth rates and energy deficit due to low irrigation and fertigation regime during the post-harvest of 2020, presented a significantly slower recovery from dormancy with much less vegetative growth during the spring. And since smaller trees are less productive, the effect on yields is evident".

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