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Fruit Grower News 

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December 2014




                Once again, the Hort Society has put together a great program.  This year’s lineup of speakers includes a couple of my favorites, George Bird and Essie Fallahi.  Both of these men are gifted teachers that bring years of research experience and knowledge to the podium.  DON’T MISS THEIR TALKS!  Whenever a grower asks me what to plant my response is always, where and how will you market (sell) it?  Check the program content on line ( and you’ll see several talks on marketing.  The goal of WCHS is to provide you with tools to make you a better, more profitable grower.  Register today!  Join the tour, attend the presentations, and spend time with your neighbors at the trade show.  Don't miss this opportunity! 


Each spring Cropworx brings in a number of truckloads of certified organic fertilizer in one ton tote bags.  Because of the bulky nature and freight cost this is a special order product.  If you’ve purchased one of these products from us in the past then you’re already on our list and we’ll be in touch.  If you’re new to the organic scene or just interested in hearing more, please give us a call. 

Here are the blends I bring in from True brand organic fertilizers – 13-0-0, 12-3-0, 8-5-1


It seems like every year there’s some condition that plagues the industry from Junction to Paonia.  This last season brought a pair of blights to our industry.  Coryneum blight and Fire blight.   Both issues rise and fall within the life (disease) triangle of: host-environment-pathogen.  If a host is present along with the disease and the weather turns favorable (for the disease) then an outbreak follows.  The relevant side of this triangle to our winter season is the pathogen.  This is where sanitation will play a role.  As you prune though blocks that suffered from one of these blights pay close attention to removing wood with cankers.  With the severity of fire blight in some blocks last season this may mean removing scaffolds or entire trees.  During the dormant season shredding the pruning’s in the alleyway will usually suffice.  Removing to a burn pile outside of the block is also good.


Learning is not compulsory……. Neither is survival!



Liebig's Law of the Minimum states that yield is proportional to the amount of the most limiting nutrient.  This law is also true when viewed from an orchard wide perspective. 

               What Limits Your Bottom Line?

                                                  Do you set production goals?    

                                                                          Do you know what block is not paying its way? 

                                                                                                     Know why?


Here are a few key factors affecting the production/profitability of a block of fruit:


  • Tree spacing, rootstock, and variety – Maximizing the amount of sunlight captured by each acre should be part of your production goal. The right rootstock/variety combination planted at a spacing that will fill the orchard acre is vital to your success.   Too much blue sky between the tractor and tree row cuts down on your harvest.


  • Weather – While there are certainly some sites better than others when it comes to spring frosts, I don’t know of any completely frost free sites on the West Slope.  Is fighting frost part of your production goal?  Do you own a wind machine?  Is it ready to run for one of our minus zero winter nights?


  • Soil - How deep is your soil? A lot of us farm on shallow calcareous soils.  Twelve to eighteen inches of topsoil is all we have to work with.  I’ve observed a number of fifty plus year old trees pushed over that had root systems only two feet deep.  It’s an accurate analogy to say we farm trees in pots.  This fact should be considered in our decisions regarding nutrition and irrigation.


  • Pest and Disease – Does you production goal have a pest/disease threshold?  Are you willing to accept some level of damage?  Do you understand the impact a pest population this year can have on next season’s crop?


  • Pruning – Does a production goal apply to your pruning program? Do you prune each tree with a volume of fruit in mind?  A desired crop load relative to the amount of fruiting wood left in each tree.  Do you incorporate the concept of “cycling” fruiting wood on the tree to keep fruiting structures young and strong?   Do you use the diameter based pruning concept to maximize fruit wood and minimize structure wood?  To keep the tops open and allow light distribution down through the canopy.



Take some time to study the pie chart below. It’s from research that Ohio State University performed a lot of years ago. It illustrates the relationship of how a number of factors affect fruit size.  The bigger the slice the bigger the impact!



                                                                                    Factors Affecting Fruit Size














I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.

I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.








Hope Your Holidays are Blessed!!!

The Crew At Cropworx

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