Dormant Pruning and Fall Ethephon Application Influence Peach Pistil Hardiness

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

Flower bud hardiness of ethephon-treated (100 mg·liter-1 in October), dormant pruned (in December) `Redhaven' peach (Prunus persica L. Batsch.) trees was studied from December through March using exotherm analysis. In early December, buds not treated with ethephon were 0.5C hardier than ethephon-treated buds. From mid-December through March, ethephon-treated buds were 0.5 to 2.1C hardier than nontreated buds. When a main effect of pruning was detected, buds from pruned trees were 0.8 to 2.8C less hardy than buds from nonpruned trees. On several dates, a significant interaction on flower bud hardiness between ethephon treatment and pruning was detected. For trees not treated with ethephon, buds from pruned trees were 1.8 to 2.2C less hardy than those from nonpruned trees. Pruning did not affect hardiness of buds from ethephon-treated trees. Ethephon delayed bloom to the 75% fully open stage by 9 days. Pruning accelerated bloom to the 75% fully open stage by 3 days compared to nonpruned trees. Flower bud dehardening under controlled conditions was also studied. As field chilling accumulated, flower buds dehardened more rapidly and to a greater extent when exposed to heat. Pruning accelerated and intensified dehardening. Ethephon reduced the pruning effect. The percentage of buds supercooling from any ethephon or pruning treatment did not change as chilling accumulated. In trees not treated with ethepbon, fewer buds supercooled as heat accumulated, and pruning intensified this effect. In pruned, ethephon-treated trees, fewer buds supercooled after exposure to heat. The number of buds supercooling in nonpruned trees did not change with heat accumulation. Flower bud rehardening after controlled dehardening was also evaluated. After dehardening in early February, there was no difference in the bud hardiness of pruned or nonpruned trees. Buds from ethepbon-treated trees were hardier than those from nontreated trees. With reacclimation, buds from pruned trees were not as hardy as those from nonpruned trees. The percentage of buds supercooling from ethephon-treated trees did not change with deacclimation or reacclimation treatments. After deacclimation in late February, buds from pruned trees were 2.2C less hardy than those from nonpruned trees. After reacclimation, buds from pruned, ethephon-treated trees rehardened 2.6C while buds from all other treatments remained at deacclimated hardiness levels or continued to deharden. Ethephon-treated pistils were shorter than nontreated pistils. Pistils from pruned trees were longer than those from nonpruned trees. Deacclimated pistils were longer than nondeacclimated pistils. Differences in hardiness among ethephon and pruning treatments were observed, but there was no relationship between pistil moisture and hardiness.

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