Spurs were collected periodically throughout three growing seasons from the 1-year-old section of wood of `Royal Gala' trees growing in New Zealand. Three classes of spurs were sampled: purely vegetative spurs, those that flowered but did not carry fruit, and spurs on which a single fruit was borne. The bourse bud, in which flowers may form for the following year's crop, was dissected and bud appendages classified and counted. In addition, axillary buds from current-season shoots were sampled and dissected. Over the period 50–200 days after full bloom, the number of appendages in buds on vegetative spurs increased from ≈14 to 22, whereas the increase in buds on fruiting spurs was 14 to 20. In contrast, axillary bud appendage numbers increased from ≈11 to 14 over this period. By the end of the growing season, flowers were evident in a high proportion of buds of all classes. The critical appendage number at which the change from a vegetative to floral status became visible was ≈18 for spurs on 1-year-old wood, but 13 for axillary buds. The time at which flowers were able to form varied among years. The degree of flower differentiation that occurred prior to leaf fall was highest in vegetative buds and was reduced by flowering and fruiting, and was lowest in axillary buds.
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