Alternatives to Fish Oil for Thinning Apples with Lime Sulfur

in HortScience

A tank mix of fish oil plus liquid lime sulfur has proven to be an effective chemical thinner for apples in the bloom and postbloom periods. This combination was labeled for use as a chemical thinner in Washington State in 2003. There are several concerns with fish oil when used in this thinning mixture. Phytotoxicity is one concern. Apple growers have a reluctance to utilize this oil because of its expense and repulsive odor. Research to date has been conducted using oil from a single small source in Washington State. Shipping fish oil across the country is expensive and the consistency and purity of fish oil from other sources is unknown. Fish oil may function as a surfactant and penetrant, and it may also have a direct thinning effect. The objective of these studies was to evaluate the efficacy of several surfactants and oils in combination with lime sulfur for thinning apples. Lime sulfur has been less effective as a thinner when used alone than when used with oil in our studies. Regulaid, LI-700, and Silwet L-77 were shown to be less effective than oils for achieving thinning. Vegetable oil has been very effective in the thinning combination, while petroleum oils have been effective in some eastern U.S. trials, but less effective in the west. Tank mixing fish oil with lime sulfur has remained among the best treatments in our trials, while vegetable oil also shows promise.

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