Pruning and Skirting Affect Canopy Microclimate, Yields, and Fruit Quality of `Orlando' Tangelo

in HortScience

Pruning and skirting (removal of low-hanging limbs) effects on canopy temperature, relative humidity (RH), and fruit yield and quality of `Orlando' tangelo trees (Citrus paradisi Macf. × Citrus reticulata Blanco) on `Carrizo' citrange rootstock [Poncirus trifoliata (L.) Raf. × Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.] were studied at the Univ. of Florida Fifield Farm in Gainesville, Fla., in 1996–97. In the first season, treatments consisted of skirted and non-skirted trees. In the second season, two skirting (skirted and non-skirted) and three pruning (gable-top, flat-top, and non-pruned) treatments were evaluated. Neither RH nor air temperature was affected in the lower canopy by any treatment. However, temperature in the upper canopy of flat-topped trees was higher than that in gable-topped or non-pruned trees, and reached >45 °C during spring and summer. Fruit number and yield were decreased by pruning and skirting in one season. Skirted, gable-topped trees had the lowest yields, followed by skirted, flat-topped and non-skirted, gable-topped trees. All other treatments produced yields similar to those of non-skirted, non-pruned trees. Pruning increased the percentage of large fruit and reduced the percentage of small fruit. Skirting and pruning had no effect on blemish incidence with the exception of wind scar, which was higher in skirted than in non-skirted trees in the first season. During both seasons the main causes of packout reduction were rust mite and wind scar damage. Regardless of treatment, rust mite damage was much higher in the lower than in the upper canopy because of lower average temperatures and higher RH. Pruning effects on fruit quality were similar to those reported previously, but skirting had no effect on most fruit quality factors.

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