068 EFFECT OF PRUNING SEVERITY ON APPLE TREE GROWTH, YIELD AND YIELD EFFICIENCY

in HortScience

`Empire'/M.26 apple trees which were planted in 1978 and trained to a Y-trellis were pruned differentially from 1989-1993. Trees were dormant pruned by removing from 1-4 scaffold limbs. The annual increase in trunk cross-sectional area (TCA), and the number and length of shoots removed during summer pruning increased linearly as the severity of pruning increased. The number of shoots removed during summer pruning from the most severe pruning treatment was more than double that of the least severe treatment Cumulative fruit number and yield were reduced linearly with increasing severity of pruning while average fruit size was increased only slightly by severity of pruning. Light interception was reduced with increasing severity of pruning. Tree efficiency of converting light energy into fruit (g fruit/MJ PAR intercepted) was linearly reduced with increasing pruning severity. Most of the reduction in conversion efficiency appeared to be due to reduced partitioning of resources into fruit since partitioning index (g fruit/unit increase in TCA) was more highly correlated to pruning severity than to conversion efficiency. Conversion efficiency and partitioning index accounted for a greater portion of the yield variation than did light interception indicating that the influence of pruning on yield was more a function of changing internal physiology than reduced light interception.

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