EARLY THINNING OF PROCESSING PEACHES COSTS MORE BUT IS PROFITABLE

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  • 1 University of California, Department of Pomology. Davis, CA 95616

Current recommendations for fruit thinning of processing clingstone peaches in California suggest that growers delay thinning until an assessment of fruit size is made at reference date (10 days after first indications of pit hardening) and then adjust the crop load according to the fruit size attained. Recent research on modelling peach fruit growth indicates that delaying thinning until reference date (usually mid-May) can substantially limit final fruit size potential and crop yield when initial fruit set is heavy. In 1991 we initialed a field study to lest these model predictions and evaluate the yield response and economic feasibility of fruit thinning within 50 days of bloom to a specific crop load. The experiment was conducted in commercial orchards of the extra-early maturing cling peach cultivars Loadel and Carson. Three thinning treatments involved thinning different sets of trees on April 10, April 30, (∼30 and 50 dafb) and May 23 (reference date). Although costs of thinning at the earlier dates were 140-290% of thinning at reference date the increase in yield resulting from early thinning more than compensated for the higher thinning costs. There were no major effects of thinning treatment on the occurrence of split pits or other quality characteristics. This research has stimulated a re-evaluation of commercial fruit thinning practices used for clingstone peaches in California.

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