EFFECTS OF SEVERAL GROWTH CONTROLLING TECHNIQUES ON APPLE TREES

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  • 1 Department of Plant & Soil Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003

In 1991, experiments were conducted to assess the effects of several growth controlling techniques on tree growth and fruit set, abscision, ripening, and other qualities. The first two experiments assessed the effects of root pruning (4-8 days after petal fall, 1 m from the trunk, 30 cm deep) in commercial orchards. Compared to controls, root pruning reduced fruit abscision from mature `Cortland'/M.7A trees by 70% on 17 Sept. In another orchard, root pruning reduced fruit abscision from mature `McIntosh'/MM.106 trees by 47% on 24 Sept. The third experiment utilized vigorous `Gardiner Delicious'/MM.106 trees. Treatments included root pruning (as described above), trunk scoring (single, complete circle, approximately 40 cm from the soil), trunk ringing (single, complete circle, 1 mm wide, approximately 40 cm from the soil), ethrel spray treatment (500 ppm), and dormant-pruned and unpruned controls. Treatments were applied on 15 May, when terminal growth was 12-15 cm. No treatment affected fruit set. Trunk growth was less for ringed and scored trees than other treatments. Ringing and scoring advanced ripening compared to controls, and ethrel resulted in intermediate ripening. Treatments had no effect on fruit size, flesh firmness, or the development of bitter pit and cork spot. Fruit abscision was least from controls and root-pruned trees. Trees that were treated with ethrel in May had the most rapid abscision rate.

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