By: Forrest Scharf (PAg) Provincial Specialist, Fruit Crops
Most fruit orchards suffered minimal "top-kill" or wildlife forage damage in winter 2015/16, as average winter temperatures were exceptionally warm. Snow coverage wasn't significant in most areas, allowing animals to forage from non-fruit sources. Spring and early summer conditions were generally dry, so negative effects of excess moisture from previous years improved. Since upper soil layers became relatively warm and dry in early summer, iron chlorosis symptoms were less evident in high pH soils, which allowed orchards to regain vigour.
Early-season sunshine and heat translated into overly rapid fruit development in fruit like cherries and apples; under those physiological development conditions, fruit didn't have time to increase size to its full extent. For earlier-ripening crops like strawberry, haskap and Saskatoon berry, fruit quality was good as persistent sunlight translated into high sugar content and disease pressure was low. In later-ripening crops, high amounts of precipitation in July and August associated with somewhat cool overcast conditions led to lower-than-average sugar content and increased development of disease and insect pressure.
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