ORCHARD MANAGEMENT FACTORS AFFECTING THE PERFORMANCE OF NEW ZEALAND ORCHARDS - AN EXTENSION VIEWPOINT
Apple production based on trees 5 years of age and over is 46 t/ha. District average production ranges from 21 t/ha in Northland and Central Otago to 67 t/ha in Hawkes Bay. Top orchard production has reached 180 t/ha - nearly 4 times average production.
High performing orchards have no serious soil, site or climatic problems, regular and full canopy, an efficient tree form with good balance between fruiting and vegetative growth, regular cropping, good pest, disease and weed control, adequate nutrition and irrigation, and careful harvest management.
The wide range in orchard performance demonstrates potential for better performance by wider adoption of the practices being used by high performing orchards. These techniques are already widely researched and well understood. Greater emphasis in this area needs to be given to extension.
Future research should be market orientated rather than production orientated and address those problems which affect fruit quality and marketability. In the production area emphasis needs to be given to identifying and solving the limiting factors to the adoption of modern proven technology, labour motivation and skills training, and the matching of cultivars, rootstocks and growing systems to soil, site and climate.