Controlling Cropping in `Loadel' Cling Peach Using Gibberellin: Effects on Flower Density, Fruit Distribution, Fruit Firmness, Fruit Thinning, and Yield

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

Whole-tree sprays of Release LC [predominantly gibberellic acid] (GA,) were applied in a commercial peach [Prunus perisca (L.) Batsch.] orchard in the California Central Valley on three dates from mid-June (about 90 days after full bloom = 28 days before harvest) to late July (14 days postharvest) 1993 at 50, 75, 100, and 120 mg·liter-1. Gibberellin (GA) reduced the number of flowers differentiated in 1993, thereby reducing fruit density in 1994, when sprays were applied by early July 1993. Sprays in late July did not reduce flowering and fruiting density in the following year. In 1994, there were fewer fruit located on the proximal third of the shoot after GA sprays of 75,100, and 120 mg-liter' applied on 15 June compared to hand-thinned controls, and reduction was linear with increase in GA rate. Fruit numbers in the middle and distal sections of shoots were reduced by all 15 June and some 9 July GA sprays, with fewer fruit as concentration increased. However, the distribution of fruit within shoot sections, after GA treatments during floral differentiation, expressed as a percentage of the total number of fruit along fruiting shoots, showed even fruiting compared with hand thinning. Due to reduced flowering in response to GA treatments in June and early July 1993, the hand-thinning requirement was significantly reduced, with no thinning required in 1994 from 15 June 1993 GA sprays. All sprays applied in early July resulted in 40% to 60% fewer fruit removed during thinning than the nontreated controls. Sprays in late July were ineffective. Sprays of GA applied in mid-June at 50,75, 100, and 120 mg·liter and sprays of 120 mg·liter-1 GA applied in early July (4 days preharvest) increased the firmness of `Loadel' cling peach (about 26% improvement in June sprays) in 1993. The salable yield of fruit (after removal of the undersized fruit) was the same on hand thinned and on non-hand thinned trees treated with GA on 15 June at 50 mg·liter-1. The salable yield of fruit was increased by GA sprays of 50 and 75 mg·liter applied on 9 July 1993 compared to controls. There were no differences in fruit size (by weight or diameter) among the aforementioned treatments and hand thinning. GA sprays of 75,100, and 120 mg-liter' applied on 15 June 1993 tended to reduce salable yield, but fruit size increased with decreased yield. Based on the results obtained in 1993 and 1994, we believe that Release LC has good potential for chemically thinning peaches in California.

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