Hort seminar focuses on orchard training

Mitch Lies/For the Capital Press Oregon State University Wasco County Extension agent Lynn Long talks to growers about cherry-tree training systems while in Australia in September. Long will talk about different training systems used in Chile, Australia, Moldova and Canada, sites he has visited over the past two years, during a seminar at the Northwest Ag Show.

In the mid-1990s, Northwest cherry growers were behind the curve in utilizing new training systems.

Not so any longer.

“I’d say that we are now on the leading edge of developing and using some of these systems,” Oregon State University Wasco County Extension agent Lynn Long said.

Long, who has researched cherry production systems in Chile, Australia, Canada and Moldova in the past two years, will talk about what he’s been seeing in his international travels as part of the horticultural seminar, Jan. 27 at the Northwest Ag Show.

“I’m seeing a lot of interest in Chile on the new training systems that have been developed around the world,” he said. Particularly of interest for Chilean growers is the Super Slender Ax system, which was developed at the University of Bologna in Italy and the B. Baum system, developed in northern Europe, he said.

The B. Baum system has two leaders that allow cherries to be farmed off laterals that are pruned annually so fruit remains close to each of the axes of the tree, he said.

“There is also interest in Chile in some of the systems that were developed here in the Northwest,” he said, “such as the UFO, and interest in the KGB system out of Australia.”

Growers are using newer training systems as a means to simplify harvest and pruning and, in some cases, to increase the effectiveness of pesticide treatments. Northwest growers, he said, are adapting systems developed elsewhere for use here.

For example, the KGB system, developed in Australia, today is being used as much as any system in new plantings in the Northwest, he said, rivaling even the Steep Leader system that came out of Washington State University in the mid-1990s.

In addition to utilizing new training systems, Northwest growers today are paying more attention to soil biology, he said.

“In the past, what was going on above ground was the only thing we really thought about,” he said. “You put the fertilizer on and then irrigated and that is about all we knew or understood about what was happening in the soil.

“Now we are starting to think about soil biology — how do we affect the health of the tree by looking beneath that soil level,” he said. “A lot of that started after I took a group of Oregon and Washington growers to Australia a number of years ago and we started talking to growers in Australia about their use of mulches.”

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