A decision support system has been developed to help Colorado fruit growers with apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) thinning. This system can also be used as a teaching aid and as a tool for generating research hypotheses. The system determines if fruit thinning is needed by identifying catastrophic events that would eliminate the need for thinning. The major function of this decision support system is determination of tree responsiveness to chemical thinning agents. This is accomplished through analysis of the user's answers to questions related to the physiological status of the trees, environmental data, bearing history, and the apple variety in question. On the basis of the above analysis, two sets of recommendations are presented: general recommendations based on the variety selected, and specific ones for that variety based on growth stage and tree responsiveness to thinners. The user also is provided with the rationale for the recommendations.
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