Apple grower says Waiken essential for pollination and fruit set

Written by   SST Australia
Effect of an application of Waiken (left) on apple. Effect of an application of Waiken (left) on apple.

Stuart Douglass has Western Australia's only orchard of traditional old–world cider apple varieties.
These European style, high chill apples are specially grown for cider production (real cider). There are 15 varieties in the orchard with key varieties being Yarlington Mill, Browns Apple and Dabinett.

"Being high chill varieties, there was some initial concern that they would not set fruit in WA's temperate climate," Stuart said.
"Some varieties are also biennial bearers and others suffer from post harvest flowering. Given these challenges, it is critical that we manage dormancy, budbreak and tree growth to ensure that we set a crop every year for the life of the orchard."
To achieve adequate and timely flowering, and to manage the growth of young trees, Stuart relies on the application of the dormancy breaker, Waiken—which has now become an essential part of his orchard management program.
"A timely application of Waiken each year is critical to breaking dormancy and to flowering and pollination," he said.
"Waiken compresses the flowering period for each variety and we can get each variety to flower at about the same time which significantly improves pollination and fruit set."
No Waiken, no crop
Stuart said the benefit of Waiken was made obvious last season when six Dabinett trees were not sprayed adequately. (Dabinett is one of the most challenging varieties to set fruit.)
"Those six trees did not flower until December—well after all the other sprayed trees had finished flowering and had set fruit," he said.
"It proved to us just how effective Waiken is in controlling budbreak and flowering in our high chill varieties when the recommended chill hours are not met.
"With Waiken, each variety sets fruit every year, the trees remain calm, and we are better able to control vegetative growth and have minimised biennial bearing."
Stuart added that if the real cider industry in WA is ever to become established, it will rely heavily on the application of Waiken to manage budbreak and flowering to optimise fruit set.

Contact Stuart, phone 0407 232 649

See this article in Tree Fruit May 2018

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