REDUCING COSTS IN DRIED PLUM PRODUCTION Maxwell Norton UC Cooperative Extension Merced County
Managing credit: Try to cash flow as long as possible before drawing on production loan to reduce interest costs. Compare interest costs and utilize cheapest form possible. Eg:dealer financing or bank financing?
Do a block by block analysis of profitability. Treat each block as a separate enterprise. Pull out any blocks that don’t make a profit.
Pruning: Get rid of the ladders - power saws and shears mounted on poles are faster. If trees need to be lowered to reduce shading - a topper ahead of the crew will cut labor Alternate year pruning will not reduce yields but it may reduce sizes
Hire a consultant for your pesticide & fertilizer programs. She may be able to find ways to reduce usage and you will be able to shop around for the best price on materials.
Instead of debating if you can afford individual sprays - Sit down with your PCA and work up a strategy for the season. Discuss the situation. What would be a minimal program?
Unless you have an existing aphid problem use alternate year or alternate row dormant spraying Small amounts of russet scab do not usually affect grades - do you need to treat if it does not rain during or just after bloom? Rust sprays are usually not needed if it does not rain in Mid May. If no rust 6 weeks prior to harvest - don’t spray
Orchards do not need to be spotless, if cost of water is not an issue, you can tolerate a few more weeds. However, weeds around the trunk can lead to squirrel and vole problems.
If trees are vigorous can skip N application Use leaf analyses – if high N, skip a year. Look a NO 3 – N in well water multiply by 2.78 to get lbs N/acre-foot of water applied – use results to reduce N fertilization program Don’t skimp on K
Are you over-irrigating a little? May be able to reduce pumping costs. In our IPFP plots the pressure chamber to monitor tree water status saved 1 irrigation on average.
Don’t harvest early Wait till optimum maturity Even with some pre-harvest drop, improved maturity will result in better returns per ton and per acre.
Don’t pay to dehydrate fruit that will return very little per ton Use a sizing chain at harvest time to remove small worthless fruit in the field