Controlling Floral Initiation and Vegetative Growth of Apple with Prohexadione Calcium (BAS-125W), an Experimental GA-biosynthesis Inhibitor

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  • 1 1Dept. of Fruit and Vegetable Science, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14853
  • 2 2Dept. of Horticultural Science, Cornell Univ., P.O. Box 727 Highland, NY 12528

Early fruit production and control of tree size are important factors in the economic viability of high-density apple orchards. A horticultural tool permitting growers to induce terminal budset should provide greater control over the balance between vegetative growth and reproduction, increasing orchard production and profitability. With this goal, the experimental GA-biosynthesis inhibitor, BAS-125W, is being evaluated for effects on enhancing floral initiation and controlling tree size in young orchards. In nursery stock, the effect of inducing earlier terminal budset is also being studied for influence on storage carbohydrates and performance after planting. Studies in 1996 showed that 250 ppm BAS-125W induced terminal bud set on actively growing second-leaf `Macoun', `Delicious', and `Fuji' trees. Seven application dates from 17 June to 9 Sept. were compared to determine how time of treatment would effect degree and distribution of flowering the following year. Terminal budset typically occurred 2 weeks after application, with shoot growth resuming in 4 to 5 weeks. At two dates, treatment of growing tips only was compared with entire tree application to distinguish the direct effect of GA-inhibition on floral initiation from the effect of redistributing photosynthate. Treatment from 17 June to 29 July significantly reduced total annual shoot growth compared to the untreated controls, while later treatments had no significant effect on shoot length. Treatments of nursery stock with BAS-125W on 1 Sept. accelerated terminal bud set by at least 7 days compared to untreated controls of both `Fuji' and `Golden Delicious'. Effects of treatments on flowering and tree growth in 1997 will be discussed.

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