Reevaluation of a Desiccating Surfactant for Thinning Peach Blossoms

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, 101 Funchess Hall, Auburn University, AL 36849
  • 2 North Alabama Horticulture Substation, P.O. Box 1062, Cullman, AL 35055
  • 3 Chilton Area Horticulture Substation, 120 County Road 756, Clanton, AL 35045

The surfactant “Surfactant WK” (dodecyl ether of polyethylene glycol) was applied to peach trees [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] at full bloom over 3 years. Blossoms died rapidly so that within 2 days dead blossoms could be distinguished easily from live blossoms or set fruit. There were strong (R2 > 0.87), linear correlations between concentration of “Surfactant WK” applied and percent blossoms removed and fruit set, which were similar over the 3 years. Trees were hand-thinned according to commercial practices after treatment. There was similar cropload, fruit weight, and yield across treatments at harvest indicating no negative effects by the chemical on productivity. There was only slight limb damage at the highest concentrations of “Surfactant WK,” which overthinned blossoms. We recommend that based on the effectiveness, consistency, and lack of significant phytotoxicity, “Surfactant WK” be reevaluated as a thinning chemical for peach trees.

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