EFFECT OF ROOT PRUNING AND CHEMICAL THINNING ON GROWTH AND FRUITING OF `McINTOSH' APPLE TREES.

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  • 1 Dept. of Plant. Soil, and Environmental Sci., Univ. of Maine, Monmouth, ME 04259

Mature `McIntosh'/MM.111 apple (Malus domestica, Borkh.) trees were treated to evaluate the response of root pruned trees to chemical thinning and to determine if reducing the crop load increased fruit size on root pruned trees. The trees were root pruned at full bloom in 1988 and 1989, by cutting on both sides of the row 1m from the trunk and 30cm deep. Water, 600mg/liter carbaryl, 5mg/liter napthaleneacetic acid (NAA), or NAA plus carbaryl were applied when fruit diameter was approximately 10mm. Trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA) was increased by thinning treatments in 1988, but root pruning had no effect. In 1989, root pruning reduced TCSA increment by 35%. Shoot length was reduced by root pruning both years. All treatments reduced percent fruit set in 1989, however root pruned trees and trees treated with NAA had the highest fruit numbers at harvest. Preharvest fruit drop was reduced by root pruning in both 1988 and 1989. Root pruning had no influence on the response of apple trees to chemical thinning. Removing a portion of the crop with chemical thinners was partially successful in counteracting the reduction in fruit size caused by root pruning.

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