Interactions of Ethephon, Whitewashing, and Dormant Oil on Peach Pistil Growth, Hardiness, and Yield

in HortScience
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  • 1 Rutgers Fruit Research Center, New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, Cook College, Rutgers University, RD 2 Box 38, Cream Ridge, NJ 08514

Six-year-old peach trees [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] were sprayed with ethephon (100 mg·liter–1) in Oct. 1989, whitewashed in Jan. 1990, and sprayed with dormant oil on one or two dates in Mar. 1990 to study possible interactive effects on flower bud hardiness, pistil growth, time of bloom, and yield. Flower buds from ethephon-treated trees supercooled to a lower temperature [mean low temperature exotherm (MLTE) of –18.5C] than buds from nontreated trees (MLTE of –17.7C) in February; there was no main effect of whitewashing or any interaction with ethephon. No treatment effects on hardiness were detected in March. Ethephon-treated pistils were smaller than nontreated pistils, and pistils from buds on whitewashed trees were smaller than those on nonwhitewashed trees. No main effects or interactions of dormant oil on pistil size were detected. Ethephon and whitewashing delayed bud development during bloom, but prebloom oil application(s) had no effect. Buds from ethephon-treated and whitewashed trees were more tolerant of freezes during bloom than buds from oil-sprayed trees, and yield was enhanced by ethephon and whitewashing. Prebloom oil sprays reduced yield compared with controls. Chemical name used: 2-chloroethylphosphonic acid (ethephon).

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