PACIFIC SOUTHWEST: In California, the price of tree nuts and wine grapes have been going up substantially over the past few years, and there seems to be no end in sight. Ever-increasing demand, both domestically and overseas, combined with shaky water supplies within the state have created a situation where we have the need for increased production but are restrained by inputs available to us. Because of this demand and increased water costs, many are switching from annual crops like cotton and wheat to crops with a much larger return on investment like tomatoes, almonds, pistachios and wine grapes.
For “new” permanent crop growers, there is a risk of simple but long-lasting mistakes that can hang around for the life of the crop, sometimes more than 30 years. These are things such as not ripping or shattering the lower layers of topsoil with a large piece of machinery but only tilling the top 3 feet to save costs or not adequately amending the soil to make it sustainable for the new crop being planted. Not selecting the right rootstock or spacing the vines too far apart may lead to cordon dieback.
When planting an annual crop, mistakes like these can be learned from and corrected the next year. When a permanent crop is being planted, however, it is there for years and often mistakes or oversights like these can be very noticeable and not as easily remedied as they would have been if they were done in the beginning. Careful orchard or vineyard planting that may cost some extra money up front can save you lots of trouble and provide much more return over the years to come.
All photos are the property of Syngenta unless otherwise noted.
Reporting from Hanford, CA