Managing a jujube orchard
Jujubes grow well on a variety of soils. The tree prefers sandy loam or lighter soil but will grow on well drained clays. Trees can tolerate saline, alkaline or slightly acidic soils. While they can grow in a range of soils, improvement of acidic, alkaline, salty and sandy soils will improve growth and production.
The key times for nutrition are:
- before budburst (September)
- early flowering (October/November)
- rapid growth stage of young fruit (December)
- immediately after fruit harvest (April/May).
Jujube orchards in WA will need a balanced nutrient program supplying nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg) and trace elements at rates depending on soil fertility, tree age and cropping levels. With deciduous orchards the best time to apply the main annual dressing of NPK is in early spring.
There is little information available for the rates of fertiliser applied to jujubes. Growers can be guided by fertiliser programs for other deciduous orchard species grown in WA. See Jujube fertiler recommendations for more information.
Although jujube trees can survive with very little water, irrigation is an important factor to produce a good yield of quality jujubes. Irrigation scheduling has a direct impact on tree health and fruit yield, size and quality. Without correct scheduling an orchard is more susceptible to nutrient deficiencies, physiological disorders, pests and diseases.
Soil characteristics will influence the type and timing of your irrigation program. Moisture will drain towards the root zone and plant utilisation and water use efficiency will depend on how long it is held there.
Micro sprinklers are a good option for tree crops such as jujubes. Compared to larger sprinklers they are efficient, saving water by only watering the ground under the trees and not the inter-rows. They work on lower pressure and are cheap to run. Trickle and drip irrigation are efficient, economical systems that are well suited to jujubes.
The trees require approximately 3–8 megalitres per hectare (ML/ha) over the growing season, depending on site specific soil and climate.
Scheduling depends on either measuring soil moisture in the root zone with a moisture meter, or measuring daily evaporation rates. The measurement is combined with a ‘crop factor’, which is a measure of the crop's water harvesting characteristics. It is affected by the root structure and the size of the soil volume from which the roots can extract water. Current water use varies between growers and regions from 3-8ML/ha.
See Jujube irrigation recommendations for more information.