Timing and Severity of Summer Pruning Affects Flower Initiation and Shoot Regrowth in Sweet Cherry

in HortScience
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  • 1 Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center, Washington State University, Prosser, WA 99350-9687
  • 2 Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6414

To examine the effect of timing and severity of summer pruning on flower bud initiation and vegetative growth, 4-year-old `Bing' cherry trees (Prunus avium L.) were pruned at 31, 34, 37, 38, or 45 days after full bloom (DAFB) with heading cuts 20 cm from the base of current-season lateral shoot growth, or at 38 DAFB by heading current-season lateral shoot growth at 15, 20, 25, or 30 cm from the base of the shoot. The influence of heading cut position between nodes also was examined by cutting at a point (≈20 cm from the shoot base) just above or below a node, or in the middle of an internode. Summer pruning influenced the number of both flower buds and lateral shoots subsequently formed on the shoots. All of the timings and pruning lengths significantly increased the number of both flower buds and lateral shoots, but differences between pruning times were not significant. There was significantly less regrowth when shoots were pruned just below a node or in the center of an internode, rather than just above a node, suggesting that the length of the remaining stub may inhibit regrowth somewhat. The coefficient of determination (r2) between flower bud number and regrowth ranged from -0.34 to -0.45. In young high-density sweet cherry plantings, summer pruning may be useful for increasing flower bud formation on current-season shoots. The time of pruning, length of the shoots after pruning, and location of the pruning cut can influence subsequent flower bud formation and vegetative regrowth.

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