Predicted Crop Value for a Cling Peach and Three Nectarines of Different Harvest Seasons as a Function of Crop Load

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  • 1 1Universidad de Chile, Facultad de Ciencias Agronomicas, Santiago, Chile
  • | 2 2Cornell University, Dept. of Hort. Sciences, Geneva, NY, 14456

Several field experiments to assess the effect of tree size and crop load on fruit size and yield were conducted in a `Ross' cling peach orchard and in three nectarine orchards of different harvest seasons in Chile. Trees were randomly selected in each orchard and then hand-thinned at the beginning of pit hardening to a wide range of crop loads. The fraction of above-canopy photosynthetically active radiation intercepted by the canopy (PARi) was determined at harvest and all fruits were counted, weighted, and average fruit weight calculated. Cropload and yield were expressed in terms of fraction of PARi. Data on farm gate prices for export fruit of different sizes and export dates were obtained from a Chilean export company. For each orchard, the relationship between cropload and fruit size or cropload and yield efficiency was assessed by regression analysis. Fruit size distribution was calculated from adjusted fruit size assuming a normal fruit size distribution and valued according to shipment date and price. Using crop load as a covariate, fruit size adjusted for cropload was calculated for each nectarine orchard. Differences in adjusted fruit size and yield efficiency were detected among cultivars. Predicted crop value, normalized in terms of PARi intercepted, was calculated for all the cultivars. Large differences in predicted crop value were found for early, mid-season, and late-ripening nectarines. The early and late ripening cultivars showed the highest predicted crop value, especially at lower crop loads and larger fruit sizes. On the other hand, `Ross' cling peach showed its highest crop value at a medium crop load with high yield and relatively small fruit size. (Funded by FONDECYT grant 1930695.)

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