Growing premium fresh sweet cherries since 1918

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IRRIGATION


Our orchards are located in the Yakima Valley of Washington State.  Unlike the more well-known western portion of Washington, our region is classified as a desert.  We receive less than 7 inches of rainfall per year, on average.  As a result, we rely on an elaborate irrigation system that starts with the melting of mountain snow pack over 100 miles away.  From the five mountain reservoirs that collect the runoff, the water is carried via rivers and man-made canals.  We receive our water through regulated wier boxes and valves owned and operated by the local irrigation districts.  We own rights to this water that we pay for, allowing us to receive our allotted amount.  This water is then pumped to our orchards and distributed via large grids of sprinklers that were designed and built by Olmstead Orchards.

 

One of the most important horticultural practices that affect fruit quality is irrigation.  From the time the canals fill in early April, we begin irrigating.  Our watering cycle depends on the stage of development and the weather.  During the spring and fall, much less water is used than in the hot summer months of June, July, and August.   One reason is that the soil dries out quickly in the hot months and needs more water to sustain the trees and fruit.  In addition, the fruit is in a critical stage of development as the weather heats up, requiring more water. 

 

Our sprinklers spray water on the ground, not on the branches or fruit.  This  keeps the water from being absorbed by the leaves or the fruit, which can cause splits in the cherries.  Water on the trees can also promote powdery mildew, that can ruin an entire crop.  We also irrigate for longer periods of time to make sure the water in the soil is not only near the surface, forcing shallow root systems.  However, we also have to be careful not to over-saturate the soil and cause root rot in the trees. 

 

The irrigation system is very costly to build and takes a lot of maintenance, but we would not be  able to farm without it.  Sprinklers and pump filters often get clogged with debris from the open irrigation canals.  Sprinklers also occasionally get run over by a tractor of four-wheeler and need to be repaired.  The pumps that are used are also susceptible to breakdown and need to be maintained and repaired.

 
       
 

2003-2008 Olmstead Orchards, Inc.  360 Frazer Road  Grandview, Washington  98930

 Last updated Monday June 02, 2008      Website problems:  webmaster@olmsteadorchards.com

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