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The River News, Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - 13
Citrus Australia - SA Regional Wrap
Citrus Season Update
Calibration and application
A very successful and informa-
tive grower workshop was held
on January 28 in Waikerie.
This workshop provided growers
with practical first-hand information
on spray calibration and application
by our guest speaker Scott Mathew
(solutions development special-
ist from the chemical company
This was followed by a spray
demonstration by Martinani, who
displayed their Whirlwind low
volume electrostatic spray unit.
The spray unit is fitted with a KWH
electrostatic device which uses the
principals of positive and negative
electro fields to actively charge the
units spray droplets.
After a BBQ dinner, a block
inspection was conducted with an
ultraviolet light which illuminates
the dye added to the spray unit’s
tank to demonstrate the efficacy
of the spray application. This gave
growers the opportunity to form
their own opinion on application
Information from the day will
be shared with all growers. Thank
you to all growers who attended the
workshop and to all the presenters
for sharing their valuable time and
knowledge with us
Pest Identification – Loxton
CASAR’s IDO Sam Rogers will
provide details of the next grower
workshop (‘pest identification’) and
BBQ to be held in Loxton later this
month. All growers and industry
sectors are welcome to attend
these workshops which are informal
Balancing the Crop Load
This season is not considered
to be an above average crop load,
with many blocks having a very light
It is important to carefully
assess fruit densities and fruit size
now as this allows growers to make
more informed decisions about any
crop load adjustments required:
- 4-5 oranges / 0.5m quadrat is
an optimal crop load.
Fruit size of oranges should
have been at least 44mm in di-
ameter at the beginning of Janu-
ary and 54mm now to grow to a
size of 75mm which is the mini-
mum export count 113/88 by
early June (refer to the table to
the right: ‘predicted growth rate’).
Take action if:
Fruit density counts for or-
anges are more than 6-10 / 0.5m
Fruit density counts for 8-10
for mandarins / 0.5m quadrat.
50 per cent of the fruit was
less than 40mm at the beginning
of January. Hand thinning during
January-February is a beneficial
strategy to improve fruit size:
Remove wind blem-
ished, damaged and small fruit
(<50mm in early February).
For more information, refer to fruit
size management guide part 1 & 2
Citrus requires optimum nu-
trition at each growth stage to
promote better fruit size and tree
Growth stage one (November-
December) requires adequate
supply of calcium to reduce albedo
Growth stage two (January-
April): Potassium should be applied
during January and February after
the final fruit drop stage. Aim for
leaf levels of 1.0-%-1.5% to ensure
calcium uptake is not affected.
Ensure good N: K (2≈1) ratios.
Potassium sprays should occur in
December, January, and February
(3% potassium nitrate depending
on historical leaf-K levels).
Aim to provide 25 per cent of
the annual nitrogen requirements:
Single dose broadcast application
should have been applied in Janu-
ary. Fertigation applied monthly
from January onwards backing
off towards the end of March as
excess applications of nitrogen
and potassium after this time can
cause delays in maturity and colou-
ration and produce coarser rinds.
Applications should always be
based on leaf analysis and leaf
The nutrition strategy should be
revised according to variety, crop
set, timing of maturity and tree age.
All good fertilizer and nutrition
programs should be supported
by regular leaf analysis and good
This enables the grower to mon-
itor changes and revise programs.
Leaf analysis should not be the
sole indicator to determine the next
season’s nutrient status.
Other factors such as tree
health, vigour, leaf colour, yield
and rind texture at harvest
should be included. February to
mid-March is the ideal time to
collect leaves but not any later.
When taking a sample, aim for the
second or third spring-flush leaf
from a non-fruiting shoot from all
sides of the tree. A representative
sample includes a cross section of
20 trees and a total of 100 leaves.
The Fruit Doctors offer a leaf analy-
sis service. Leaf analysis standards
for citrus can be found at http://
Avoid applying GA on early
navels at this time. Apply to wash-
ington and late navel varieties
now. Application after this time
may delay colour for one to two
weeks. The benefits and effects of
a summer GA application include:
Reduction of the incidence of
albedo breakdown (creasing) and
delays its development.
- Enhances firmness of the rind.
Improves fruit quality and
extends post harvest shelf-life by re-
ducing fruit susceptibility to moulds.
@ 20ppm if the trees have an
albedo history. 15ppm if concerned
about colour delay.
4.5 - recheck after
mixing well before application.
Apply during the cool of the
morning or only after irrigation in
Ensure good coverage and
Recommended water applica-
tion rates are 5000 L/ha for small
trees, 7500 L/ha for medium-sized
trees and 10 000 L/ha for large
Always add a spreader. Do not
add additional spreader if you used
an acidifying agent which normally
contains a spreader.
Apply GA after three weeks from
an oil spray, or one week prior to an
Summer oil application
Oil sprays are a key component
of IMP programs and play a vital
role in the suppression of mealy
bug and keeping red scale at nil
to low levels for export programs.
Apply oil sprays once the crawlers
have emerged. If applied correctly
Movento has very good chemical
control of red scale.
Aphytis should be released
in February for red scale control.
Ensure a four week gap between
insecticides, oil and GA applications
and aphytis releases.
Remove any suckers or root
stock from now through to March
with little regrowth expected. Skirt-
ing (50cm) and weed control under
the canopy is essential as it is
peak adult Fullers rose weevil ac-
tivity time. Dispose of any waste
fruit to avoid island fly infestation.
If you have questions about any-
thing in this week’s column or an
issue that you would like discussed
CASAR chair Con Poulos E: sare-
CASAR IDO Sam Rogers E: sam.
phone 0477 110 933
You’re damned if you do, and
you’re damned if you don’t.
Policy formulation is one of
life’s challenges that most try to
avoid. It’s a dry topic; it’s risky
and mostly left for someone else
to worry about, write about and
explain in simple language.
It’s hard because there are
rarely less than 10 ‘reasonable’
points of view and seeing it from
another’s perspective is almost
Troublesome policies mostly
concern taxes, levies or punish-
When not directly affected, we
often tend to be experts; from the
vantage point of the tractor seat,
the kitchen, or the lounge. That’s
There’s only the dog, the canary
or the cat to balance opinion.
Income tax, paid parental leave,
carbon tax, rent resource tax, su-
perannuation and climate change
are just a few of the policy areas
about which we may have an
opinion but we are unlikely to
‘die in the ditches’ over them.
When it’s an issue that’s close to
home however, one that impacts
our very livelihoods, it is imperative
that we become informed and help
Last week’s hot potato column
piece about the WET rebate wine
tax policy broached a topic that is
complex, contentious and in the
minds of some, the most prob-
lematic set of rules hampering the
recovery of our industry.
The Winemakers’ Federation
and Wine Grape Growers Australia
peak bodies have been toiling to
clarify the policy for more than 12
months. The ATO is struggling to
reconcile the regulations with the
wide and varied range of interpre-
tations all of which are argued as
being legitimate, depending on the
perspective of the person or enter-
But it’s crunch time. If the grow-
ers and winemakers cannot reach
agreement and communicate a
clear and unified position to gov-
ernment, the growing antagonism
between stakeholders will continue
to distract and detract from the
real job of rebuilding a sustainable
Australian wine industry.
As reported last week, River-
land Wine is listening to growers
and winemakers and preparing
a clear statement of position to
assist all parties to agree what is
the most appropriate WET rebate
policy for our industry. If you want
to express a point of view, email
It seems no time since exit
packages were announced as
an option to leave the industry.
First announced by the Federal
Government in September 2006,
there was little or no interest in
the $75,000 to “sell the farm and
leave the industry”.
The RWGA lobbied Minister
McGauran consistently and in
September 2007 the exit grant
was doubled to $150,000, plus
$10,000 for retraining and a fur-
ther $10,000 as contribution to-
wards relocation costs.
In December 2007 there was
a change of government and the
lobbying continued. As part of the
2008 budget package, new Trea-
surer Wayne Swan made further
changes, increasing the small block
threshold from 15ha to 40ha and
withdrawing the obligation for the
irrigator to sell the property.
The scheme finally gained real
For many growers, worn down
by the hardships of the ongoing
supply and demand imbalance, the
drought and the high cost of water,
the package seemed the lesser
of two evils and more than 170
applications were filed before the
closing date of September 2009.
One of the many ‘conditions’
imposed on irrigators was an exclu-
sion period of five years, during
which the irrigation block could not
be used to carry on an irrigation
farming enterprise; nor could the
grantee participate in any irrigation
farming anywhere in Australia.
For most irrigators, that five-
year period will expire this year. Un-
fortunately, some of these blocks
have now been stranded without
water and without the possibil-
ity of other irrigators being able to
acquire the property for irrigation
Water delivery rights have been
reallocated in some instances
leaving no available capacity in
some lines to return water to those
blocks for any irrigated crop. These
former irrigators now own a strand-
ed asset with little or no likeli-
hood of being able to sell them.
It will be interesting to see what
solutions may be found for these
dust bowls, scattered across the
region in the coming few years. The
bitter irony of this is that the irriga-
tors could not sell the properties
during the drought, at anything but
fire sale price, and those proper-
ties are now destined to be left in a
permanent state of drought.
Now is the time
Now is the time to prepare for
harvest. All the hard work bringing
the vines from pruning to fruition
is nearly complete. The next two
months are the culmination of all
Irrigation is still a vital activity.
Although the season so far has
been mild we can still expect long
periods of very hot weather. Febru-
ary is usually our hottest month.
Adequate water is needed to
ensure maximum leaf function: to
ripen grapes as quickly as possible
and make sure vines are in the
best condition for next year.
Baume sampling is one of the
most important activities leading
up to harvest.Sampling should be
thorough, accurately representing
the ripeness of the patch. Wineries
can impose penalties for inaccurate
results or if the load does not meet
minimum sugar levels. Baume tests
should be conducted weekly or
even twice weekly as harvest nears.
Other activities such as
making sure final spray diary
forms have been sent to the
winery, getting PMS supplies and
grape delivery advice books are
all part of harvest preparation.
Harvester set up and operation is
vital to make sure vine damage is
minimal and MOG is minimised.
Excessive MOG can attract signifi-
cant penalties and can be avoided
by attention to the operation of the
Make sure you discuss this
issue with the harvest operator
before commencing harvest.
A RIVERLAND man’s research into weather
forecasting has revealed that predictions are be-
coming increasingly accurate.
South Australian Nuffield scholar Robin Schae-
fer, who shares a collaborative farming venture
at Loxton, said while forecasting was improving,
farmers should still refrain from taking predic-
In his paper Weather Forecasting and Busi-
ness Management Systems, Mr Schaefer wrote
that five and seven day forecasts in Australia have
increased in accuracy by 45 per cent over the past
Three-day forecasts have increased accuracy by
27 per cent to become 97 per cent accurate.
Mr Schaefer, who undertook his Nuffield
scholarship study with support from the Grains
Research and Development Corporation (GRDC),
said forecasting technology and methods had
come a long way with the advent of more sophis-
ticated technology like satellite forecasting, but
said farmers should still be wary of the impact of
over-subscribing to forecast data.
“Given the uncertain nature of weather fore-
casts, the riskiest thing anyone could do is to take
a weather forecast literally,” he said.
“In the media we see stories of farmers who
followed a forecast of a drought literally, made a
dramatic business decision, such as deciding not
to sow any crop at all or totally de-stocking, which
proved to be the correct decision and resulted in a
dramatic escape from its effects.
“For every one of these stories, there are many
more where a dramatic decision proved to be in-
correct resulting in huge losses.
“As weather forecasts continue to become more
accurate farmers will begin to increase their reli-
ance on them. However, this could increase the
risk to the business, especially when the forecast
will inevitably be wrong.”
The paper examines a range of decision-making
tools available to farmers in Australia and beyond,
including popular services like Climate Kelpie,
and forecasting technology and research overseas.
Mr Schaefer said while Australia has rapid im-
provements in recent years, decision-support tools
from Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US,
offer lessons in how local services could enhance
their offerings to farmers.
Mr Schaefer said that weather forecasting had
plenty more progress to make, both in longer-term,
seasonal forecasting, as well as more localised
predictions via micrometeorology, to help farmers
make the most of decisions informed by weather.
“The weather is an essential part of planning
daily operations and in the longer term can mean
the difference between a profitable and unprofit-
able year,” he said.
“Research needs to be targeted at seasonal
forecasting. Investigations for this report have
confirmed there is plenty of scope to continue to
improve seasonal forecasting.”
Mr Schaefer’s paper can be found online (www.
nuffieldinternational.org). For more information
about the GRDC-supported Climate Kelpie service,
on the way
RIVERLAND man Robin Schaefer’s research shows
weather forecasting is becoming more accurate than
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