Fresh Facts 22: Planning & Planting

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Well that my friends was just the most wonderful series of rain events we could have hoped for, the ground just got thoroughly saturated, every slough, creek, river, and canal ran at capacity and the canals continue to do so keeping every acre of recharge basin recharging.

So last winter as I recall, all the climate forces were predicted to have aligned to wash California into the Pacific. This year was predicted to be la niña or fairly dry…

The takeaway is this: for all their sophisticated, satellite aided, computer modeling, quarterbacks and weather-men still get paid to be right 60% of the time. They also are really big on telling us how accurate they were when they are and kinda quiet the other 40. I do believe they’ve gotten better at the 3 day forecast than they were 40 years ago but beyond that I take it for an educated guess and we keep paying the tuition.

Well, I remember last week we were talking about planting an orchard, soil prep and the like. Soil analysis lets us know where we’re at pH and mineral wise, so anything that’s short gets applied to insure the greatest nutrition in the future crop.

How you’re going to get water to the tree should be planned out before the tree is planted so the trees aren’t disturbed by the installation of pipelines and risers.

What commodity (peach, nectarine, plum, or apricot) and variety were likely decided last May when the nurseryman was contracted and the correct rootstock budded.

That decision was mostly about people. While we grow fruit, the peaches aren’t near as important as the men and women involved in the harvest. Maintaining a flow of fruit so our team always have consistent work and our customers always have consistent, balanced, desirable supply is 99% of the deal.

An analogy I always share is: “Successful fruit production is like irrigating with siphons.” Let me elaborate. A siphon is some sort of tube that uses gravity to pull liquid up and over because the outlet is lower than the intake. Most people are familiar with siphoning gas out of a car tank for your lawnmower.

When irrigating with siphon pipes out of a ditch, you first spread your pipes where you want them, then turn in the water. Once the water in the ditch is higher than the furrow, the irrigator maybe has 3-4 minutes to get 40 – 60 siphons going; my dad could start a 2 inch pipe with each hand and never look back. I’d start at the other end and we’d meet in the middle. The best I got was maybe 20% and we quit row crops before I was big enough to make a better contribution.

The point is, all the work is getting the things going, they’ll run all night if the amount of water coming in the ditch matches the amount flowing out. Let it go dry (suck air) though and you have to start all over. When harvest starts in May, you’ve got a brief window to get sales going, but if people like what they get, it’ll flow til October. We work really hard to match production to demand and that’s what planning and planting are all about from the 10,000 foot perspective. Next week we’ll get more into the nitty gritty of establishing a healthy orchard.

Eat healthy!

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Categories: Fresh Facts , Newsletter

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Your farmer Vernon Peterson grows organic stone fruit and chickens along the Kings River in Kingsburg, California.

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