Proper watering is indispensable if you want your harvests to be rich and of good quality. In recent years, fruit farmers have been particularly troubled by droughts that have resulted in a decline in the size of produce and, consequently, in a drop in farmer’s income. This shows clearly how important it is to ensure the optimal soil moisture in orchards. Leaving this aspect at the mercy of fate is — to put it shortly — asking for trouble. Watering orchards is also advisable due to a high density of trees, which generates a greater demand for water.
Fruit trees’ resistance to lack of water is as a result of multiple factors, such as genetic features, natural immunity, general environmental conditions, and, as it is assumed, individual properties of a rootstock and the noble variety of a given plant. During a dry spell, it is vital to put a lot of effort into maintaining proper soil moisture for your plants. Only this will help reduce crop losses resulting from a lack of water.
Fruit tree plantations in orchards are particularly prone to insufficient natural moisture because they are densely planted. Due to the close proximity to one another, their roots can’t spread freely, and they are elongated, which makes it harder for the tree to absorb water. This is the main reason why watering areas planted with trees is so important. Fruit farmers who are aware of this fact invest in irrigation systems so that the proper soil moisture can be retained. This solution allows them to be independent of rainfall and have good harvests, regardless of the weather.
What can be the consequences of water shortages in orchards? Very serious. Water is indispensable to ensure proper growth of the trees, harvesting, and for photosynthesis. The time of intense fruit development is when the plants need water the most. Changes in the regularity of seasonal changes and weather anomalies observed in recent years are of significance as well. Watering should be carried out according to the needs of a given species. Exceeding those needs may lead to limited growth and a decrease in the quality of crops.
Watering orchards can be realized in many ways. Fruit farmers can choose e.g. sprinkling machines, drip irrigation systems, micro-sprinkler irrigation, tree watering bags. Below you can read a short overview of each of the methods.
It is the most popular way of plant watering. Dripper tubes are installed along the seedlings and deliver proper amount of water to the tree root system. This effective watering method maintains the advisable soil moisture. Fruit farmers use the system especially in case of apple and pear plantations. Drip irrigation can be adopted on both flat and uneven terrain. Saving water (even up to 40%) — which is possible thanks to the precise application of water to the tree root system — is a big advantage of this method.
Making use of sprinkling machines requires a constant and efficient source of water. One of the unquestionable advantages of this watering method is the face pace at which water is delivered to trees. The machine has a wide range, so it can at one go water a considerable area. This system has one more benefit — it protects plants from freezing. Sprinkling brings about creating a dark layer of ice on the surface of leaves and buds, which offers the plant protection from frost. Unfortunately, the sprinkling machine has drawbacks as well. First, no works can be conducted during watering because spraying water successfully prevents them. Second, sprinkles scatter water not only on the soil, but also on the leaves, which may cause fungal diseases.
Watering orchards can be carried out by means of so-called micro-sprinklers. It is a response to traditional sprinkling machines because of which trees often suffer from fungal diseases. Micro-sprinklers are installed under tree crowns, which directs water straightly towards the soil and eliminates spraying it on the leaves. This method is more economical than using sprinkling machines because — thanks to more limited application — requires a moderately efficient source of water.
This relatively new watering method that has so far been used for watering trees in municipal parks, garden squares, neighborhoods, and other green spaces. Watering bags for trees are used in case of small orchards or amateur farming. This watering system makes it impossible to irrigate fields, but the water is distributed directly to the roots of the tree thanks to special drains. Filling the bag allows for dosing the water up to 6 hours, which ensures that the tree is hydrate for up to 1 week (depending on the needs of a given plant). Such a method provides deep saturation of the root system. Additionally, watering bags do not require a constant supply of water, as they can be filled up with the use of mobile tankers and barrels.
Without doubt, a watering system for orchards is vitally important. Providing plants with water guarantees their proper growth and results in abundant harvests. The installation of such systems needs to be taken into account as soon as we plan to establish an orchard. Choosing the suitable method depends on the orchard’s size, types of plants, terrain, and even the location. Thinking about installing an irrigation system, one cannot neglect the issue of supplying it with water. A well, a natural water source (e.g. a stream or lake), or providing water from some “outside” source? Every method has its pros and cons, and it is best to consider all the options in advance to choose the one that is optimal for the needs of your plantation.