Applying Soybean Oil to Dormant Peach Trees Thins Flower Buds

in HortScience

Applications of soybean oil to dormant peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] trees were tested for prebloom thinning of flower buds in five separate experiments. Data were combined from experiments in which 2.5% to 20% emulsified soybean oil was sprayed on `Belle of Georgia' or `Redhaven' trees. The number of dead flower buds was concentration-dependent with maximum bud kill of 53% occurring with application of 12% soybean oil. The amount of thinning was fairly consistent from year to year, ranging from 34% to 51% when 10% soybean oil was applied, but was less consistent when 5% was applied, ranging from 6% to 40%. Overthinning by midwinter applications of soybean oil occurred in one experiment when bud mortality on nontreated trees was 40% due to natural causes. Mild to moderate spring freezes occurred in three experiments, but did not reduce yield more in soybean oil–thinned than in nontreated trees. Flower bud survival was improved when trees were sprayed with 10% or 12% soybean oil prior to a –4 °C spring frost. Applications of soybean oil to dormant trees thinned flower buds, reduced the amount of hand thinning required, and hastened fruit maturity.

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