A new study suggests you can save an orchard by giving it an extra year of life.
Researchers at the University of Exeter, UK, compared the survival rates of more than 3,500 trees in a central England orchard.
They looked at the number of new growths, leaf spot counts, and canopy canopy cover, and concluded that a year of healthy orchard life was worth an extra $3,600 in annualised profits.
“The average annual profit for a small orchard in the UK was £11,000 a year in the 1980s and it has only grown by $3.6 million per annum,” said study leader Professor Chris Wootton, from the Department of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences.
“This is about half the annual profit that is generated in the industry today.”
The study, published in the Journal of Horticultural Science, found that trees that had had a year to develop healthy growths in their canopy and that had been protected from fire and pests during the previous year were at lower risk of dying or failing than trees with a new growth or canopy.
The study also found that the rate of orchard deaths fell by 40 per cent in a year compared to a year earlier, and the number and type of diseased or diseased branches declined by 90 per cent.
But Prof Woottons findings also found evidence of a small but significant increase in the risk of death from disease.
“Our results show that in areas where orchards were protected from drought and pests, the risk for mortality from disease is slightly higher than in areas without protection, but in areas with protection from drought, it is much lower,” Prof Woots said.
“It is the first study to show this, and it is very encouraging.”
But we are not suggesting that we should stop protecting trees because they are healthier, or that we have to stop planting trees because we are losing trees.
“Professor Wootons study also revealed that the average profit per tree per year fell by only 15 per cent compared to the previous study, but that the number per year that the tree lost its tree cover was much higher.”
Mr Wootts study was funded by the Natural England Institute.”
This is partly because the drought-stricken areas have been protected for a longer period of time and partly because trees that are protected from damage during drought are healthier and have more time to develop their tree cover.”
Mr Wootts study was funded by the Natural England Institute.