Fruit Growers and Advisors Share Insights on the Cultiva Program

Fruit Growers and Advisors Share Insights on the Cultiva Program

Greg Newman, Ryan Hesse and Tye Wittenbach shared insights with Thiago Moraes at the Cultiva Master Class retailer and grower industry event, “Mastering Fruit Cuticle Quality and Why it Matters” in Las Vegas, Nevada, in January 2024.
Greg Newman, Ryan Hesse and Tye Wittenbach shared insights with Thiago Moraes at the Cultiva Master Class retailer and grower industry event, “Mastering Fruit Cuticle Quality and Why it Matters” in Las Vegas, Nevada, in January 2024.

Fruit growers have been looking for ways to maintain fruit quality to ensure the highest return. Environmental stressors negatively impact quality and color, but the introduction of cuticle supplements like Parka® or harvest aids like  Kallurinto a management approach can help growers improve quality and crop value.

Growers and crop advisors weighed in on how they have integrated the Cultiva program into their own operations and have found positive benefits. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Ease of use

In contrast to standard programs historically used to help control sunburn, Parka is a transparent coating that doesn’t leave any residue on the fruit. It also has an excellent worker safety profile that helps create a safer work environment.

“We don’t have to deal with trying to clean out equipment to switch over for other applications,” stated Greg Newman, crop advisor for NWFM and grower from central Washington. “With Parka, nobody is complaining about the white stuff on the fruit. The field staff and everyone else working in the orchards appreciate it.”

Parka has helped make easier and more productive color picking. Without the white residue left on the fruit, pickers can easily identify mature fruit come harvest. It also makes it easier to spot sunburn and other defects while in the field, so only the highest quality fruit makes it into the bin. Not only does this increase packing efficiency, but it also creates a better appeal for the end consumer.

2. Benefits beyond protection

Parka provides protection against environmental stressors that impact plant health and production while also delivering additional plant health benefits that other sunburn protectants lack.

“We get a lot of sunburn, wind damage and other environmental stressors,” explained Newman. “At first, we started using Parka for sunburn, and now we’ve expanded its application to other crops and young trees for the stress relief it provides. We saw how it helped with just growing the trees, filling the space and increasing branching.”

“I have a similar story as Greg,” commented Ryan Hesse, crop consultant and certified pest control advisor for Nutrien Ag Solutions and grower from central California. “We started using Parka for sunburn and got into stress mitigation. We were trying to reduce abiotic stressors like bad water or salts, and there was a visual difference in the trees that had Parka applications versus the ones that did not. We started to get new flush, new growth and more turgor pressure in the leaves.”

3. Efficiencies across the season

Parka helps generate time savings collectively across the season. Due to its tank-friendly formulation, Parka can be used with other crop inputs and easily incorporated into spray programs to create season-long efficiencies for growers. From saving passes across the field to spending less time in the tractor, Parka provides the convenience of applying crop protection inputs in one trip across the orchard.

“If you’ve ever tried to mix calcium carbonate in a tank and clean out the filters, then you know how time-consuming and labor-intensive that can be,” said Hesse. “Parka is easy to mix with other products and the clear application results in time savings and labor needed for other applications. It freed us up to do other things and allowed us to mix insecticides or foliar products together with it so we could do all the sprays in one pass.”

4. Improved packout

Fruit trees are frequently exposed to environmental stressors that impact their health and production. These stressors negatively impact every crop by affecting plant growth, development and productivity. Parka restores and supplements the natural cuticle, enhancing the plant’s resilience to environmental stressors. This, in turn, enhances fruit quality and yield at harvest, ultimately leading to improved packout.

“I’m always looking at what our top problems are for packout,” explained Newman. “Our russet has gone down quite a bit since we started the program. Our sunburn has gone down, which is amazing if you’ve been in our area the last two summers with the amount of heat that we’ve had. We are making improvements in our packout with the Cultiva program.”

Another important aspect of packout is color. The challenge lies in achieving the ideal hue in the crop while maintaining fruit quality. That’s where Kallur has been helping growers improve harvest productivity and overall fruit color.

“We’ve seen great improvements in our packout,” said Tye Wittenbach, owner and manager of LTI Ag Research and grower from western Michigan. “We’ve seen our best improvements with the Parka and Kallur program that we have run the last two years.”

5. Proactive, season-long approach

Research has shown that the protective cuticular layers are formed during the early stages of fruit development when the fruit is most vulnerable. Growers can see the best results by supplementing the cuticle early to set the fruit up for success when environmental stress occurs. A healthy cuticle has the ability to defend against excessive water uptake or drought and sunburn from harmful UV radiation while also decreasing a plant’s susceptibility to attacks from fungi, pathogens and pests.

“I swapped out calcium carbonate and started using Parka to improve fruit finish and reduce russet, and then moved into sunburn protection,” explained Wittenbach. “I use Parka applications days ahead of heatwaves to make sure the cuticle is built up and strengthened. We saw good results by doing this and experienced plant health benefits that helped our packouts.”

Ready to maximize your marketable yield with the Cultiva program? Contact your Cultiva representative today.