More Water, Bigger Fruit

One way to increase the size of cherries, apples, blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes, peppers or any other fruit or fruiting vegetables is to increase the amount of irrigation water. Since a high percentage of any fruit is water, it makes sense that giving plants additional water would increase fruit size.

In a previous blog I recommended letting the soil dry out between irrigations. That is not the best procedure for obtaining larger fruits. I talked to a local berry grower about his irrigation practice. “I have a 3 day schedule during the harvest period”, he said, “irrigate one day, allow the soil to dry for one day, and pick the third day. Then irrigate the 4th day. Don’t make the plants hunt for water. I’m also on a 3 day irrigation schedule for 2 or 3 weeks before harvest begins, unless there is significant rainfall.”

My own berries and vegetables get watered about every 3 days. I have a drip tube running through my raspberries. I turn it on in the evening and let run overnight for about 8 hours. This gets the water to the full depth of the root system. If you are not sure the water is going deep enough, check with a shovel the morning after irrigation. The soil should be moist at least 6 inches deep.

It almost goes without saying that all vegetables and fruits should be fertilized at least once in the spring. I use 16-16-16 (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium). Long season vegetables like tomatoes, squash, peppers, and corn get a second fertilization about 6 weeks after planting.

I have also found that a yearly application of lime will significantly improve most vegetable production. Strawberries, raspberries and especially blueberries like our normal acid soil. I do not give them any lime.

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