Varying Density with Constant Rectangularity: II. Effects on Apple Tree Yield, Fruit Size, and Fruit Color Development in Three Training Systems over Ten Years

in HortScience
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  • 1 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, Summerland, BC, Canada V0H 1Z0

The effect of increasing planting density at constant rectangularity on the fruit yield, fruit size, and fruit color of apple [Malus ×sylvestris (L) var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf.] in three training systems (slender spindle, tall spindle, and Geneva Y trellis) was assessed for 10 years. Five tree densities (from 1125 to 3226 trees/ha) and two cultivars (Royal Gala and Summerland McIntosh) were tested in a fully guarded split-split plot design. Density was the most influential factor. As tree density increased, per-tree yield decreased, but yield per unit area increased. The relation between cumulative yield per ha and tree density was linear at the outset of the trial, but soon became curvilinear, as incremental yield diminished with increasing tree density. The chief advantage of high density planting was a large increase in early fruit yield. In later years, reductions in cumulative yield efficiency, and in fruit color for `Summerland McIntosh', began to appear at the highest density. Training system had no influence on productivity for the first 5 years. During the second half of the trial, fruit yield per tree was greater for the Y trellis than for either spindle form at lower densities but not at higher densities. The slender and tall spindles were similar in nearly all aspects of performance, including yield. `Summerland McIntosh' yielded almost 40% less than `Royal Gala' and seemed more sensitive to the adverse effects of high tree density on fruit color.

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