Chestnut production includes all the vagaries of any other crop. Seeking a higher yield to improve profitability while managing expenses. Soil and crop performance depends on the availability of nutrients at different rates at different stages of crop growth. In the case of this chestnut grower, ‘good’ soil test and plant tissue numbers for potassium, were still showing up as deficiencies in the leaf.
What was going on?
If a deficiency is seen in the crop, yield has already been lost. The likelihood in most crops is this yield wont be able to be redeveloped in the current crop season.
Timing of nutrient application and management of irrigation to suit the trees demand have seen a marked improvement for crop sizing and nutrient levels in plant tissue.
Reviewing how the crop grows and when likely demand for nutrients will occur, helps to develop an application and testing regime. Its possible to use past test information to assist and consider patterns in previous years.
Our approach here was to monitor potassium as first indicator due to the issues from the previous year, and manage all other nutrients to the rate of potassium as the crop developed. We utilised harvested crop data from another farm to assist in the developing the targets. Analysis along the way also helped determine a preferred set of plant tissue test results that correlate to yield of the crop. This is specific to each crop, and the variety being grown.
Utilising liquid nutrients and readily soluble forms enabled smaller amounts to be applied with direct response in the crop.
During the consultation, irrigation performance continued to show up as a crop constraint.
Digging a few holes to have a look at where water was, and examining where crop roots were, led to a big mid-season change in emitter selection and irrigation scheduling, and will see further change in the irrigation control with additional valves installed according to crop variety.
The difference is that great, and fine tuning management will see continued improvements, and efficiencies on cost, and labour.
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