THE THREE STEPSTO IRRIGATION SUCCESS

Know what you're applying.

If we don’t know how much water is being applied for every hour of irrigation run, we can’t give our trees what they need. The easiest way to do this is by going out into your orchard with a catch can and performing a self-audit of your irrigation system. It’s best to do this in multiple areas throughout your irrigation block to make sure your system’s application efficiency is on point. If it’s not, you need to seek some professional help to dial it in. These audits are quick and will allow you to know how many acre-inches per hour each system applies.
 

Calculate run times using weather and crop demand.

Now that you know how many acre-inches per hour each of your fields apply, we need to determine how many hours to run each week to cover our trees’ needs. The best way to do this is by using ETc (Evaporative Transpiration) to determine how many acre inches of water are necessary for certain crops during a specific timeframe. To simplify this, we’ve created a new tool in Pressure Bomb Express that will do this for you in 2022! Enter each field’s application rates and drop GPS pins on their locations. We will create ETc Reports that provide you irrigation hour estimates each week based on the forecasted weather for each of your fields. It is important to remember that these are only estimates. Step three is the most important of all.

Adjust those run times based on actual tree stress.

The ETc Hour estimates are only estimates. The key ingredient in the recipe is to adjust these hours based on your tree’s stress levels. Before each irrigation event, we need to pressure bomb, or view stem water potential sensor data. If the trees are stressed at this point, we know we may need to run more extended hours than what ETc is recommending and vice versa if the trees are too wet. Every field is different. We can keep the trees performing their best by monitoring their stress levels before each irrigation event.

Repeat for every irrigation during the season.

It cannot be stressed enough that consistency over the whole growing season is the difference between popping champagne in the fall or being left wondering about what could have been. Consistent weekly pressure bombing allows you to get back on track if the orchards are heading down a path of being too wet or too dry. If you only check your tree’s stress level speraticly throughout the growing season, you leave yourself vulnerable to extended periods of stress or over-irrigation. Every day in these zones is detrimental to crop and tree health. Be consistent! 
 
If labor is an issue, think about going with the new pressure bomb sensors that give you stem water potential readings every day with zero labor. To learn more about the sensors, Click Here.

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