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  • 1 Horticultural Science Department, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1, Canada.

Field trials at Cambridge Research Station, Ontario, Canada, studied the thinning effect of benzyladenine (BA) on eighteen-year-old “Empire” apple trees. At 16 days after full bloom (fruit diameter 12.87 mm) whole trees were hand sprayed to drip point with BA (0, 100, or 200 mg.1-1). Untreated control trees were compared with treated and hand thinned trees. BA significantly reduced crop load on “Empire”. The thinning response to BA was linear, with recommended thinning occurring at 200 mg.1-1. At harvest, fruit weight, size (diameter and length), flesh firmness and soluble solids concentration, chlorophyll and anthocyanin contents, and seed number were increased by BA treatments. BA had no effect on fruit L:D ratio, internal ethylene concentration, maturity, and the onset of the respiratory climacteric, but significantly reduced respiration at harvest. BA also reduced ethylene production and ACC content at harvest, though the reduction was not significant. Although firmness of BA-treated fruit was significantly higher at harvest, upon storage for 1 month at 0-0.5°C and 90-95% RH the firmness advantage was lost BA shows potential as a thinner of “Empire” apple and has advantage of increasing fruit weight and size, since “Empire” is a relatively small apple compared to other commercial cultivars.

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