Most growers are well into harvest now and the end is in sight. The vines and trees have done it tough with extreme conditions this season, and will be looking to replenish their reserves in preparation for next season.
Applying post harvest fertiliser is arguably one of the most important and valuable times for plant nutrition. After harvest, growers have an opportunity to address any issues in the plant nutrient status before next season.
Once the crop has been harvested it’s like ‘flicking a switch’ for the plant which changes from fruit production, to replenishing nutrients and carbohydrates in preparation for next season’s crop. A new flush of root growth occurs to aid the uptake of water and nutrients.
It is not only the plants that need replenishing but the soil as well. When we apply synthetic nitrogen to the soil, it burns up carbon stocks in the soil, which is vital as carbon is a key food source of soil biology.
Over time this low carbon environment leads to reduced biological activity and reduced nutrient cycling, water efficiency, and disease resistance in plants.
Post harvest fertiliser applications are:
especially important for early varieties that have a short growing season.
a key time to apply fertiliser to plants that may not have received nitrogen inputs during the season. This may have been due to excessive vigour, or for issues relating to fruit colour and quality.
least likely to impact on ‘excessive’ plant vigour. Research has shown that autumn applications of nitrogen give the best response for flowering quality, fruit set and early leaf expansion.
beneficial for next season’s crop, especially impacting plants that have been doing it tough due to environmental conditions or other factors such as heavy crop loads.
A combination of approaches are available to replace essential nutrients and carbon to your plants and soil. These include foliar spraying, fertigation and spreading of granular fertiliser and soil conditioners.