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Gerry Neilsen, Frank Kappel, and Denise Neilsen

`Lapins' sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) trees on Gisela 5 (Prunus cerasus × Prunus cansecens) rootstock were maintained for the first four growing seasons with eight different fertigation treatments. Treatments involved N application at low (42 mg·L-1), medium (84 mg·L-1), and high (168 mg·L-1) concentrations via sprinkler-fertigation of Ca(NO3)2 each year about 8 weeks after bloom. The medium N treatment was also applied with P fertigation in early spring or with K fertigation in June. Nitrogen was also broadcast in early spring at 75 kg·ha-1 or followed with medium N sprinkler-fertigated postharvest in August. As a final treatment the medium root zone N concentration was maintained for 8 weeks postbloom via drip fertigation. Throughout the study, irrigation was scheduled to meet evaporative demand based on an electronic atmometer. Drip fertigation, which wet a smaller portion of the orchard floor, considerably reduced per-tree water applications. Tree vigor and pruning weights were reduced for drip-fertigated as compared to sprinkler-fertigated trees although cumulative yield was not significantly different during the study. Fruit size, however, was smaller for this treatment when crop load was at a maximum at year 4. Future research is warranted to insure fruit size can be maintained for heavily cropping drip-fertigated trees. Leaf and fruit N increased linearly as N concentration of sprinkler-fertigating solution increased from low to high values. Optimum yield and highest fruit quality were associated with the medium N treatment. Sprinkler fertigation of P and K did not increase leaf and fruit concentration of either nutrient or meaningfully affect tree performance.

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Gerry Neilsen, Frank Kappel, and Denise Neilsen

‘Lapins’ sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) on Gisela 5 (Prunus cerasus × Prunus canescens) rootstock were subjected to a factorial combination of two crop load and eight fertigation treatments from the sixth to the eight growing seasons. Crop load treatments included full crop and dormant spur thinning to remove and maintain 50% of fruiting spurs. The eight fertigation treatments, which had been maintained since the first growing season, included low (42 mg·L−1), medium (84 mg·L−1), and high (168 mg·L−1) concentrations of N applied by sprinkler fertigation of Ca(NO3)2 annually ≈8 weeks postbloom. The medium N concentration was also applied with P fertigated in early spring or K fertigated in June. A standard N treatment involved broadcast application of NH4NO3 in early spring at 75 kg·ha−1 also followed with medium N sprinkler-fertigated postharvest in August. The medium N concentration was also supplied for 8 weeks postbloom through drip emitters. Removal of 50% of fruiting spurs decreased annual yield on average by only 10%. Average fruit size could be increased in years of high crop load (greater than 400 g fruit/cm2 trunk cross-sectional area), but in a year of low crop load (less than 100 g fruit/cm2), fruit size was very large (averaging greater than 14 g) and unaffected by crop load adjustment. Minimal effects on fruit and leaf NPK concentrations, fruit firmness, soluble solids concentration (SSC), and titratable acidity (TA) were associated with yield reductions of 10%. Fertigation treatments resulted in a large range in tree vigor and yield during the experiment. High N applications reduced tree and fruit size and fruit TA and were undesirable. Annual P and K fertigation by sprinklers was generally ineffective, having minimal effects on tree PK nutrition and fruit quality with the exception of increased fruit firmness associated with P fertigation in 2005, when yield was low. Drip-fertigated trees were small, frequently had fruit with elevated SSC, but had deficient leaf K concentrations in 2004 implying a need to fertigate K when drip-irrigating.

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Frank Kappel, Robert Fisher-Fleming, and Eugene J. Hogue

The relationship between the objective assessment of sensory attributes or fruit characteristics of pear (Pyrus communis L.) fruit and the corresponding consumer or sensory panel rating was studied. Optimum fruit diameter was between 6 and 7.5 cm. Some fruit were judged to be too large. Fruit with a bright yellow skin were rated ideal, whereas green or red skin was rated less favorably. A pyriform shape with a length: diameter ratio range of 1.44 to 1.48 was optimum. Round fruit or very elongated fruit were considered undesirable. Perceived firmness increased linearly as the measured firmness increased, with the optimum firmness at 27 to 30 N (using an 11.1-mm penetrometer tip). Perceived juiciness was negatively, linearly related to measured firmness. Ideal firmness for an ideal juiciness rating was 18 to 22 N. Acceptable soluble solids concentrations (SSC) varied with the study year, but ranged between 13.6% and 17.2%. The sweet/sour balance (ratio of SSC: titratable acidity) was a useful indicator of fruit quality.

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Frank Kappel, W. David Lane, Richard A. MacDonald, and Hans Schmid

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Gerry H. Neilsen, Denise Neilsen, Frank Kappel, and T. Forge

‘Cristalina’ and ‘Skeena’ sweet cherry cultivars (Prunus avium L.) on Gisela 6 (Prunus cerasus × Prunus canescens) rootstock planted in 2005 were maintained since 2006 in a randomly blocked split-split plot experimental design with six blocks of two irrigation frequency main plot treatments within which two cultivar subplots and three soil management sub-subplots were randomly applied. The focus of this study was the growth, yield, and fruit quality response of sweet cherry to water and soil management over three successive fruiting seasons, 2009–11, in a cold climate production area. The final 2 years of the study period were characterized by cool, wet springs resulting in low yield and yield efficiency across all treatments. Soil moisture content (0- to 20-cm depth) during the growing season was often higher in soils that received high-frequency irrigation (HFI) compared with low-frequency irrigation (LFI). HFI and LFI received the same amount of water, but water was applied four times daily in the HFI treatment but every other day in the LFI treatment. Consequently, larger trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA) and higher yield were found on HFI compared with LFI trees. Soil management strategies involving annual bloom time phosphorus (P) fertigation and wood waste mulching did not affect tree vigor and yield. Increased soluble solids concentration (SSC) occurred with LFI. Decreased SSC occurred with delayed harvest maturity in trees receiving P fertigation at bloom. The largest fruit size was correlated for both cultivars with low crop loads ranging from 100 to 200 g fruit/cm2 TCSA. Overall cool, wet spring weather strongly affected annual yield and fruit quality, often overriding cultivar and soil and water management effects.

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David M. Hunter, Frank Kappel, Harvey A. Quamme, and W. Gordon Bonn

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David M. Hunter, Frank Kappel, Harvey A. Quamme, and W. Gordon Bonn

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Cheryl R. Hampson, Harvey A. Quamme, Frank Kappel, and Robert T. Brownlee

The effect of increasing planting density at constant rectangularity on the vegetative growth and light interception of apple [Malus ×sylvestris (L) var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf.] trees 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. Planting density was the most influential factor. As tree density increased, tree size decreased, and leaf area index and light interception increased. A planting density between 1800 and 2200 trees/ha (depending on training system) was needed to achieve at least 50% light interception under the conditions of this trial. Training system altered tree height and canopy diameter, but not total scion weight. Training system began to influence light interception in the sixth leaf, when the Y trellis system intercepted more light than either spindle form. Trees trained to the Y trellis tended to have more spurs and a lower proportion of total leaf area in shoot leaves than the other two systems. The slender and tall spindles were similar in most aspects of performance. Tall spindles did not intercept more light than slender spindles. `Royal Gala' and `Summerland McIntosh' trees intercepted about the same amount of light. `Royal Gala' had greater spur leaf area per tree than `Summerland McIntosh', but the cultivars were similar in shoot leaf area per tree and spur density.

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Cheryl R. Hampson, Harvey A. Quamme, Frank Kappel, and Robert T. Brownlee

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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Gerry H. Neilsen, Denise Neilsen, Frank Kappel, Peter Toivonen, and Linda Herbert

Cristalina and Skeena sweet cherry cultivars (Prunus avium L.) on Gisela 6 (Prunus cerasus × Prunus canescens) rootstock were maintained for the first four growing seasons in a randomized, replicated split-split plot experimental design with two main plot irrigation frequency treatments, the two cultivars as subplots and three soil management subsubplot treatments. The same amount of irrigation water was applied through four drip emitters per tree at either high (I1, four times daily) or low frequency (I2, once every second day) beginning in the second year. Three different soil management treatments were established the year of planting and included: 1) NK fertigation with a herbicide strip (control), or additionally; 2) maintenance of a 10-cm thick bark mulch over the herbicide strip; and 3) annual fertigation of 20 g phosphorus (P) per tree per year immediately after bloom. I1 irrigation increased soil moisture (0- to 20-cm depth) throughout each growing season. The I1 irrigation resulted in higher leaf and fruit concentrations of the immobile nutrients P and potassium (K) and larger trunk cross-sectional area than I2 trees. I1 irrigation, in general, did not affect initial yield or fruit size. Fruit from I2 irrigation had higher soluble solids concentration (SSC), color, and total phenolic concentration at harvest in 2008 and lower titratable acidity (TA), firmness, and stem pull force suggesting an acceleration of fruit maturity. When compared with the control soil management treatment, P fertigation resulted in leaves and fruit with higher P concentrations, a higher 2008 crop yield, and a delay in 2008 crop maturity as indicated by lower harvest color and SSC and higher stem pull force. Mulch application, relative to control treatments, resulted in trees with higher vigor (but only with I1 irrigation) and leaf K concentration and had few effects on initial fruit yield or quality. There were important differences in cultivar responses to treatments. ‘Cristalina’ vigor was lower than ‘Skeena’ whose fruit had lower firmness and pedicel retention than ‘Cristalina’.