By Larry Stein
Associate Professor and Extension Horticulturist
Overall, 2000 was a good year - a whole lot better than anyone could have imagined. Chilling was again marginal for this cropping season. The one cold spell we had was a fairly continuous one with no warm periods. Hence, this chilling was very beneficial. This, coupled with the Dormex emergency-use permit for use by Texas growers, was most helpful. We all owe Jim Kamas a huge thank you and ‘pat on the back’ for jumping through all the loops to get that done.
Bloom was strong across most varieties with or without Dormex. In fact. in our research plots, we could find no differences between the various Dormex rate treatments and the untreated. Still, it was easy to see exactly when the product was sprayed in various commercial blocks. Not only was bloom enhanced, but the foliage push was tremendous. This was true on both apples and peaches. I think we learned a lot about Dormex and feel more confident about its use. The timing of the sprays is especially critical, and I feel like this may have been the reason for poor performance from previous uses of the product.
Apparently, the strong bloom did not necessarily guarantee fruit set, as we saw a large amount of fruit drop especially on trees which were not sprayed with Dormex. Still, on other trees, we failed to thin enough, and had small fruit size due to the drought conditions.
Fruit quality was enhanced by the dry weather due to minimal disease pressure. I think most were pleased with how the season turned out, considering the questionable start. Who knows what 2001 will bring? It is anybody’s guess, because as soon as you think you have something figured out, things change.