By Kaeley Kindrachuk, AT, Crops Extension Specialist, Outlook, and Joel Peru, PAg, CCA, Irrigation Agrologist, Outlook
With the hot and sunny weather Outlook has received this year, fruit production is moving rapidly.
At this week’s crop walk, we featured the fruit component of the Irrigation Crop Diversification Corporation’s (ICDC’s) research and demonstration program, which takes place in the orchard area of the Canada-Saskatchewan Irrigation Diversification Centre (CSIDC). The program this year involves two projects funded under the Ag Demonstrations of Practices and Technologies (ADOPT) program, as well as some work focused on improving the overall plant health of the CSIDC orchard.
Instead of only tweeting during this crop walk, video was live streamed on both Facebook and Twitter to create a virtual field day. Viewers were able to ask questions over social media, which were answered live during the tour. Provincial Fruit Specialist Forrest Scharf was interviewed on the purpose of these projects and gave a general overview of growing strawberries, raspberries, Saskatoon berries, sour cherries and haskap. The videos are available on the Ministry’s Facebook page (video 1, video 2, video 3 and video 4)and ICDC’s Twitter page (video 1, video 2, video 3, video 4 and video 5).
The first stop was at the newest addition of the orchard at CSIDC, the strawberries and raspberries. Four rows of each of these crops began as varieties trials but have evolved into demonstrations of a plant growth regulator called Apogee, and improving plant health with micronutrients. Apogee is a product that helps prevent strawberries from growing daughter plants and focus on fruit production, helping to improve both yield and quality. The raspberry trial contains varieties that were propagated with different methods, including tissue propagation and bare root cuttings. We are learning how these two different systems affect growing behaviour and production. Since the orchard is located in a high-PH soil, iron deficiency has been an issue. Early in this trial Forrest experimented with different iron fertility products to help reduce the impact of the high-PH soils.
Innovative technology is also being looked at to improve fruit production in Saskatchewan. Photoselective netting was applied on three rows of haskap at the orchard this year to compare how the different colours affect the growing behaviour of this crop (Figure 2). This netting not only helps prevent yield loss from birds and insect pests, it also filters light, influencing how the crops grow. The red netting is supposed to promote elongation and create larger plants. The blue netting helps promote fruit growth, which has resulted in higher yields during this trial. The white netting promotes both fruit and elongation, but has yielded slightly less than the blue during this trial.
Forrest went into depth about the Saskatoon and sour cherry variety trials, as well, and responded to a Q&A on general fruit production issues at the end of this crop walk.
Because of the positive feedback this crop walk has received, we are looking forward to including more live streaming at future walks. On the next crop walk on July 11, we will feature Barb Ziesman, the Provincial Plant Disease Specialist. This will be a great opportunity to have some of your plant disease questions answered and learn more about prevention in field crops.
For more information, follow Saskatchewan Agriculture on Facebook @skagriculture or Twitter @SK_Agriculture, or follow ICDC on Twitter @ICDC_SK.