Summer-ized Cultural Report

As we enter the summer months, our resident field experts at West Pak have happily served up the following words of wisdom for our family of growers. Here’s what Southern Field Manager Andrew Gabryszak, Northern Field Manager Mike Harberson, Northern Operations Field Manager Ralph Gonzalez, and Field Buyer Nick Lahr have to say…

Water, Water, and More Water

Starting late June, what do growers need to keep top of mind? The answer is actually quite simple: In a word, it’s irrigation. That’s the consensus with all four of our field experts anyway.

“Depending on current weather conditions, increase your irrigation amount for the week, whether it’s in frequency or the total number of hours. Stay on top of the forecast for weather and water ahead of time. If you see that it’s hot today, it’s too late,” says Nick, who points out that it takes 24-hours for water to make its way to the trees’ leaves. 

Andrew adds, “It’s hard to put water in the tree two days ago. That’s why it’s important to stay ahead of the weather. We send out the links to the weather report, and they let us know about the upcoming heat waves so we can water ahead of them.” 

Mike and Ralph also agree that water is a top concern. As a valuable resource, water is one of the most significant expenses for growers and should not be wasted. That’s why when you’re watering heavily in the summer months, irrigation lines should be checked often. 

“If you’re running a 24-hour set, it’s a terrible morning when you get up, and you find the ravine out there off of a two or three inch main and you find a new chasm in your grove because you had a broken line and it’s been running all night long. Or when you’ve got a three-quarter inch riser shooting a geyser into a tree. That’s always unpleasant. With heavy irrigation, checking of the lines should be done frequently to avoid wasted water. This is extremely important after harvest when even the best harvesting crew will still break a riser or two,” Andrew adds. 

Pest Issues

While you’re out there in your grove walking the line and checking to make sure you don’t have any leaks, Nick suggests keeping an eye on your leaves and your new flush. Most of the young fruit has grown up and is past the stage of being affected by the avocado thrips, but we’re moving into Persea season, which is starting to pop up rather heavily and should be monitored carefully. These pests will not directly affect the fruit but can defoliate the trees by removing the nutrients from the leaves. This, in turn, can cause sunburn on the fruit or stems, causing them to become a #2 or drop off the tree.

“I haven’t seen as much of the lace bug this year, which is only seen in the south, and the Looper has been pretty quiet. Same thing with the brown mites. That’s usually a late summer pest. Persea mites and brown mite numbers will usually start creeping up at the same time,” explains Nick. 

The team is unanimous in suggesting contact with your PCA if you notice anything out of the ordinary. “By the time many growers notice their Persea problem it’s too late. They are not microscopic, but they are tiny. It takes somebody out there with the glass and looking and counting the guys on the leaves,” claims Andrew.

He continues: “I would follow your PCA around and watch what he’s looking for. He’s not going to be there all of the time like a full-time grower. You can be an extra set of eyes to protect your investment. Even though you’re paying him and he’s out there once a month, maybe every two weeks in the build-up, and you count numbers. If you see something before he does or if you have a question, call him. That’s important.” 

Fertilization

According to Andrew, we’re coming up on a nitrogen feeding end of June early July, hopefully with a little bit of calcium in there. He suggests maybe a good calcium nitrate. “I know most of my growers are making two applications. If you haven’t already made an application, it’s the time to look for it. You can put calcium thiosulfate (CaTS) or calcium nitrate (CaN), including a CaN17 or CAN15 if you want to use the liquid.” 

In August, you’ll be looking at your spring soil analysis and leaf analysis to determine what you need to put in in the fall. That’s one of your opportunities to fix any deficiencies or excesses in nutrients.  

Now that the flowering is done, what is set, is set for next year’s crop. Right now, we’re at crop protection mode, and that’s done with irrigation, fertilization, and more irrigation. As the team explains, take care of what you’ve got. Proper watering, fertilization, and pest monitoring are how you’re going to do that.