Abscisic Acid as a Potential Deciduous Fruit Tree Nursery Stock Defoliant

in HortTechnology
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  • 1 Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6414.

Abscisic acid (ABA) was tested as a defoliant for nursery trees of `Bartlett' pear (Pyrus communis L.) and the apple (Malus×domestica Borkh.) cultivars Imperial Gala, Gibson Golden Delicious, Scarlet Spur Delicious, Law Red Rome, Granny Smith, Braeburn, and Red Fuji. ABA was sprayed once or twice, with 1 intervening week, at 500, 1000, or 2000 ppm. Percentage defoliation was assessed at 1-week intervals for 4 weeks. For all cultivars, two applications of 2000 ppm ABA ranked among the most effective treatments for rapid defoliation; this treatment led to at least 95% defoliation for all cultivars. For many cultivars, however, other treatments caused similar defoliation percentages by digging time. All tested cultivars were effectively defoliated (>80%) by two 1000-ppm applications ABA or one 2000-ppm application. One or two 500-ppm applications effectively defoliated `Bartlett', `Gibson Golden Delicious', and `Law Red Rome'. Nursery managers, therefore, need to consider a range of ABA concentrations and alternative application protocols to obtain optimum benefit from ABA. Although ABA shows promise as a defoliant, it lacks government approval for commercial use.

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