Cropping and Fruit Growth in Redchief `Delicious': An Analysis of the Effect of NAA and Cytokinins

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  • 1 Dept. of Horticulture, Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI 48824

Generally, NAA is effective in inducing fruit thinning in `Delicious'. Although significant thinning may be induced, fruit size at harvest may not be closely related to crop load. Further, the magnitude of response to NAA may vary markedly between seasons. Herein, we present an analysis of response of `Redchief Delicious' over several years (tree age 11–14 years old) to high-volume sprays of NAA (15 mg·L–1), BA (25-50 mg·L–1), and CPPU (5 mg·L–1) at KFD of 8–12 mm. A single tree was used for each treatment replicated four to six times and response was measured by yield and fruit size distribution for each tree. In eight experiments over 4 years, NAA resulted in an average 22% reduction in yield, a 5.1% reduction in large fruit (70 mm+) and 2% reduction in small (<64 mm) fruit compared to NTC. There was a marked variation in response among years. Over 4 years, BA averaged a 5% decrease in yield, a 15% increase in large fruit and a 21% decrease in small fruit. In contrast, when NAA was combined with BA at 25-50 mg·L–1, yield decreased an average of 30%, large fruit decreased by 68%, and small fruit increased 8-fold (2.54 vs 20.6 kg/tree). CPPU alone (2-year study) had no significant effect on yield, but increased large fruit by 60% and significantly reduced production of small fruit. When CPPU was combined with NAA, yield was reduced in both years and the amount of large fruit was increased in 1995, but decreased in 1996. NAA had a very inhibitory effect on fruit size in 1996. One explanation may be that the crop was produced by lateral fruit (king flowers were lost to frost), and NAA has a greater inhibitory effect on lateral than king fruit. Results will be discussed in relation to studies with `Jonathan' and `Empire'.

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