Climate update and outlook
Warmer and drier-than-average conditions are expected for June through to September. This might slightly hasten bud break times. Average maximum and minimum temperatures for May and early June were about 1 °C above average. Very dry conditions have been experienced and irrigation application volumes this season are expected to be above average.
Crop status and management
Phenology and crop development
The fruit in general have good internal maturity and good taste. Acid levels are lower than last year, which should favour Asian markets. Pack-outs to date have been good, with average levels of blemish. Navelina and M7 harvest proceeded well and has drawn to an end. Long navel harvest commenced in early June and Washington navel harvest has commenced in the first week of June for Sunraysia and the Riverland and in the second week of June for the Riverina. Australian fruit is recognised for its good colour; thus, blocks are being harvested when they reach full colour. Colour was slow in May but caught up with the cold conditions experienced in early June. There is a variation of crop load between blocks and between trees this season. In general, the navel crop load is smaller and fruit size is slightly larger than last season.
Pests, diseases and weeds
Fruit fly: The risk for fruit fly should be low in the cold of winter, however sporadic warm days can stimulate flights. Monitoring orchards regularly for fruit fly activity is important. A quick guide and I.D. chart is available from NSW DPI website, NSW LLS and Citrus Australia.
Crop management top tips
- Pruning: A well-pruned canopy with a good distribution of strong bearing shoots close to main scaffold branches promotes leafy inflorescences. It is an essential practice for export grade fruit. Pruning after harvest therefore assists in balancing crop load if heavy flowering is expected (in an “on” year).
- Oleocellosis: Oleocellosis is rind injury damage resulting from rough picking and handling of fruit. Damage does not fully appear for up to four days after injury and can significantly reduce the value of your fruit. It is most likely to occur when the cells on the surface of the orange are fully swollen due to adequate irrigation or cold weather. It is important to familiarise yourself with optimum harvest practices to reduce the incidence of oleocellosis,taking special care with new pickers. A Harvest handbook for pickers has been developed by NSW DPI.
- Crop regulation: Blocks that have had successive low crop loads might be at risk of having an excessive crop load next season. Winter GA can help to reduce ad balance the crop load.
This Seasonal Update for the Murray Valley, Riverlands and the Riverina has been prepared by Steven Falivene, NSW DPI.