[NAFEX] sandy soil and sugary fruit

Kieran &/or Donna holycow at frontiernet.net
Fri Jun 12 11:10:22 EDT 2009

Alan's comments are very interesting.  Of course it is always advantageous to grow plants in soils they prefer.  Commercial agriculture involves watermelons and sweet potatoes on sandy soils, other crops on clay soils.  For us, stuck with our plot of land we can't change, the trick is how to use this info.  Naturally if in a dry climate we can control water.  We can also control nutrients to some degree.  
    For storage, it's better to pick late tomatoes in a dry spell even if they will be riper in a few days amid a wet spell.  I assume the same is true for tree fruits.  And in general, the more N the higher the water content of the plant and the fruit.  Organic theory holds that the heavy use of N fertilizers is why conventionally grown crops require so much protection from pests and disease.   If you dig around a bit, esp regarding tomato flavor and storage, there's trace minerals that have important effects.  If I remember correctly, copper sprays up the acid content.  They also increase storage life, or rather low copper decreases it.  Don't quote me on this though.  One thing I do remember for sure is that apples that are grown a little N deficient have brighter color and store better.      
    Which brings me around to fall leaf color.  This being such a big tourist deal in our area, we get little bits on plant metabolism in the local paper some years.  Dry sunny fall weather brings out the color in the leaves, involving higher sugar content and I'll bet, better flavor overall in everything ripening at that time.  Can we cheat and somehow produce some of the same effects in our fruiting trees?  I know the organic farmers use brix meters to check the brix content of crop leaves.  When there is a prolonged drought or rainy spell, brix levels drop.  When the brix drops below a specified point for any given crop (there are reference lists) the farmer must act.  In rainy weather, funguses attack.  In dry weather, insects move in.  I assume they use fungicides in the wet, but in the dry there is a foliar formula for seaweed, calcium, and sugar to bring up the brix.  It's not just organic farmers that use brix meters, anyone wanting to do IPM should be using one too.  It allows a farmer to wait till the last possible minute before spraying, in hopes the weather will change and fix the problem for him.  Donna 
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