Attendees at the Hortgro Science Technical Symposium in 2015 rated water availability as the highest risk to the Orchard of the Future within the Crop Production programme. Note that this was before the current drought became severe. Even before 2015, Hortgro Science management has considered water availability a serious threat to future fruit production, given that the Western- and Eastern Cape provinces are water scarce, that climate change is driving a drying trend and that competition for water is increasing with the rapidly growing human population.
According to the 2014 minutes of this workgroup, the Crop Production water strategy involves determining how much water highly productive apple trees use (current WRC co-funded research project of Dr Sebinasi Dzikiti); funding permitting expanding this research to include stone fruit; conducting research on various water saving technologies (a new WRC co-funded project on water saving under fixed and draped nets will commence in 2018); and conducting research to show growers the negative effects of over-irrigation on production and quality. In 2018, Hortgro Science will be driving an awareness campaign regarding the consideration of water use productivity (yield or income per m3 water applied) as metric of the value of water.
Irrigation and Nutrition Workgroup
To read more about these projects click on the title where you’ll be directed to the relevant Annual Report.
- The effect of irrigation on the performance of young apple trees in newly established orchards (E Hoffman, J van Zyl and A Stofberg)
- Quantifying water use of high performing commercial apple orchards in the winter rainfall areas of South Africa (S Dzikiti, Z Ntshidi and N Mobe)
- Evapotranspiration of high performance apple tree orchards (T Volschenk)
Reports Due 2018
- Establishing quantitative relationships between water relations, growth, yield and quality of high performing commercial apple orchards (S Midgley and S Zirebwa) – also Rootstocks and Nursery Tree Quality