Secondary or “rat-tail” bloom, a major site for fireblight infection of `Bartlett' pear, comprised 10% of the total bloom in 1997 and 20% in 1998. We are striving to find production practices that can be economically applied to reduce the number of “rat-tails.” Of the five known types of secondary clusters in pear, four occur on `Bartlett', the most numerous being types I and V. Type I rat-tails occur on the bourse at the base of normal clusters and bloom from 10 to 30 days after normal bloom. Type V rat-tails occur mostly at pruning sites and have one to three flowers per cluster, blooming 20 to 50 days after normal bloom. GA 3 or GA4+7 + BA were applied at 100 mg•L-1 in 1997 to reduce rat-tail bloom in 1998. In 1998, neither GA3 nor GA4+7 + BA had an effect on normal bloom or type I rattails. GA3 reduced type V rat-tails when applied at either 2 June, 2 July, or 15 Aug. but had no effect on type V clusters when applied at full bloom, petal fall, 16 June, or 15 July. GA4+7 + BA reduced the number of type V rat-tails when applied at either 2 June, 16 June, 2 July, and 15 July but had no effect when applied at full bloom, petal fall, or 15 Aug. Dormant pruning horizontal shoots resulted in as many rat-tails as vertical shoots, and heading cuts a similar number as stubbing cuts. Dormant pruning 1-year wood resulted in fewer rat-tails than 2-year wood. Summer pruning 21 or 49 days after bloom resulted in fewer rat-tails than pruning 10 days after harvest, but was similar to pruning 89 days after bloom. These and other results from ongoing work will be presented toward development of an integrated fire blight reduction strategy.
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