Main characteristics and history of the Chilean conduction system DAOR for cherry trees

Main characteristics and history of the Chilean conduction system DAOR for cherry trees

By: Ricardo Miño Astorga, Agronomic Engineer

The “agro” world throughout history has had to adapt to multiple conditions and variants that have allowed it to have a continuing improvement in innovation for tools and solutions for those who work in the area. Each advancement, each new implement was born from the necessity of adaptation when faced with a new scenario. And it is in this way that DAOR is born (Double axis on the row), the cherry tree conduction system created by the Chilean agricultural engineer, Ricardo Miño Astorga.

Ricardo Miño has more than 23 years of experience in the agriculture industry and has worked for important fruit growing and fresh fruit export companies. During that time he has participated in the planting and development of many orchards of different species, mainly cherry trees and several varieties and conduction systems (Spanish bush, Axis, Y-trellis, Tatura, etc.)

In 2011 and based upon his persistence and vision, he was faced with a situation that was very real in many cases of reconversion: to plant a cherry orchard on a kiwi orchard, but with a condition that was to “he should not uproot the kiwifruit and use the minimum resources”. 

 “That was then that I put the rootstocks between two kiwi plants and grafted them in the ground. The plant was another innovation: Colt Rootstock with a dwarfing rootstock bridge. The variety chosen for the zone, cultivar Royal Dawn with Lapins as a pollinator. For at least one year, the cherry trees had to co-exist with the grown kiwi plants. This “experiment” had 10 hectares in a planting frame, according to the kiwi plantation: 4.0 X 2.5 m., and according to my experience there were two options to form the orchard, in a simple axis or a double one,” pointed out Miño. 

Since the height of the harbor was 2.2 m. and forming it in a simple axis implied taking down the structure, and furthermore it was clear that the bridge pattern, although it is true that it should reduce the vigor with respect to a Colt, we didn’t know how much. It was at that time that Ricardo Miño thought about making a double axis and in order to reduce the vigor he should incline it at least 60°, but above the row. They already had experience in Tatura and Y-Trellis, so there were two points against them: they couldn’t make a big financial investment and furthermore they wanted movement freedom between the rows, which with these systems they could not obtain.

At the end of that first season, the plants had grown relatively well; 80% of both axes had reached 2.2 m. During this year, he imagined the conduction of the laterals and was convinced to guide them in a 90° angle with regards to the axis, towards the inter-row. He received authorization to take out the kiwi orchard, and the owner, though not yet totally convinced, allowed him to continue with the project, “with minimum resources, since surely you will have to redo it”, they told him.

The second year management to stimulate sprouting was carried out. Now the question was how to make the laterals stay at a right angle with regards to the axes.

Optimizing what we had in the field, we used “cañaveral” sticks, which are much weaker than bamboo, but it worked, at least the first year. Then, the next two years we kept forming and homogenizing the orchard and we got ideas for ways to guide the laterals without using stakes. They were amazed at the rapid spurring of each lateral. At first they attributed it to the Gisela 6 bridge. The height of each axis is 2.2 m., we left 14 laterals per axis, 28 laterals per plant. The maximum length of each lateral is 1 m. to leave two meters free in the inter-row so that the tractor can go through. The laterals have begun to be formed from 70 cm. from the ground.

The first harvest was obtained on October 30, 2014. And what was initially planned was achieved; the harvest was totally pedestrian and easy to carry out. The personnel didn’t have experience in harvesting cherries and they did it without major complications. They obtained a production of 3 ton/ha. On the way up until today, this project has produced constantly between 13 and 14 ton/ha. of fruit with extraordinary firmness and caliber. 

 “From the first year I have tried to improve this system, I always thought about it being an optimum system to transform a kiwi orchard or a grape harbor into cherry trees. I have invited many colleagues to make constructive criticism and to give their ideas. From these visits we have obtained many good conclusions,” added the expert.

The base structure of this system must be a harbor with centers at 20 m., headers and a perimeter; therefore, the use of the corner posts is also essential. All of it in 3.5 m. height (at least).

We use three wires in the mesh, one in the center row and two at 70 cm. on each side of the center. The central wire is used to fix the axes and the laterals are used to guide the arms. This is a possible weakness of this system, since up to now, the best way to guide the laterals and assure their position is by placing a stake at 70 cm. from the neck of the plant on each side towards the inter-row. From this stake a wire is projected towards the airborne mesh in an identical angle to each axis. The laterals are tied at the wire. That is to say, the orthopedics are carried out upon this structure. Then, this stake and the wire are not removed again, therefore, mechanized tasks such as herbicide applications are difficult, but it is what has worked the best and allowed the orchard to be perfectly formed.

This system reduces vigor a lot, making it ideal for strong combinations. The frame of the ideal plantation is 4 X 2 m. that is, 1,250 plants per ha. It also works for other densities.

The most important thing is the distance on the row. Two meters allows giving an angle of 60°. The shorter the distance the lower the angle is, therefore, the vigor control is also less. Greater distance is recommended in a very good, deep and drained soil.

With regards to the initial cost of the structure and labor they are broken down as follows:

This is how the DOAR system has evolved in several productive zones for cherries in the central area, with a good period of adaptation and good results in terms of productive potential.

 “This year, once we saw the results in terms of productivity, caliber curve and harvesting ease, we were absolutely convinced that it is a very interesting system and easy to manage. The initial additional costs of nearly USD$ 3,000/ha. are compensated by the precocity, efficiency and rapid return on the initial investment,” emphasized Miño.

On his behalf, Carlos Tapia, director of Avium, commented: “No cherry conduction system should be the target for criticism, since many times they are not founded and based upon little management knowledge, the “pros and cons” of each one… generally almost like “hallway comments”. A conduction system depends upon many important factors like variety, rootstock, soil, climate, etc. But personally, I believe that some of the most important factors are confidence, seriousness and discipline that each producer puts into achieving the objective. Doing this well is synonym to success in the short and medium term, but never losing sight of the main objective of each one, which is to be able to maximize the production potential maintained over time.

Even if there are those misnamed management “recipes” to form each conduction system, success or failure is closely related to the producer’s management inasmuch as the timing and technique of each management. And my comment is even for those well-known or more used, such as the central axis.”

Photography: Ricardo Miño

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