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Steven J. McArtney and Shao-Hua Li

`Braeburn' apple trees were treated with GA3 or GA7 at either 100, 200, or 400 mg·L-1, 2 years after being grafted onto 4-year-old `Royal Gala'/MM.106 trees in order to evaluate their effects on flower bud formation. Inhibition of flowering was observed on 1-year wood only and not on spurs in response to GA treatments applied later than 6 weeks after bloom. GA7 was a more potent inhibitor of flowering than GA3. These results indicate that GA treatments may provide a useful technology for the selective removal of flowers from 1-year wood in apple and may also provide a useful tool for overcoming biennial bearing in apple by inhibiting flower bud formation when applied in the light-cropping year of the biennial cycle.

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Duane W. Greene

YI-1066 is a new blossom thinner that may be useful as an alternative to the presently-used chemical thinners. It was applied as a dilute spray to `Royal Gala' apples at either 475 or 950 ml/379 liters when about 80% of the flowers were open. Browning of flowers and leaves was noted within 1 hour of application. The 950 ml/liter rate reduced fruit set. One YI-1066 treatment was applied at the 475 ml/379 liters rate, and rain started within 10 minutes after the completion of the spray. Although flower browning was noted, fruit set on these trees was increased above that on control trees. The recommended commercial thinning combination, 3 ppm NAA and 600 ppm carbaryl, did not thin. YI-1066 at 950 ml/379 liters caused a significant amount of thinning but it also reduced seed number and increased the number of fruit with solid russet at harvest.

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Alexander Lang and Richard K. Volz

The effects of spur leaf removal on xylem sap flows and calcium accumulation in fruit of apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh. `Royal Gala') were determined 56 to 61 days after full bloom. Fruit calcium concentrations were reduced but fruit size was not influenced by partial spur defoliation at bloom. Apples exchanged xylem sap with the tree in daily cycles of flow reversal. The presence of local spur leaves promoted this exchange by accentuating the xylem sap drawn out of the fruit during the day, requiring more to flow back into the fruit at night to replace it. Calcium concentrations were lower in the xylem sap leaving the fruit than in that entering it. The reduced calcium accumulation in the fruit borne on defoliated spurs can therefore be attributed to the reduced volume of xylem sap exchanged between tree and fruit.

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Max W. Williams, Sally A. Bound, Jack Hughes, and Stuart Tustin

Endothall [7, oxabicyclo (2,2,1) heptane-2-3 dicarboxylic acid] is an aquatic herbicide with potential use as a blossom thinner for apples (Malus domestics Borkh.). Trials conducted in Washington, New Zealand, and Australia on several apple cultivars indicate that endothall is a safe, consistent blossom thinner. Cultivars treated were `Golden Delicious', `Delicious', `Royal Gala', and `Granny Smith'. Single and repeat applications were used in the New Zealand and Washington tests. With multiple applications of endothall, no fruit marking occurred on any of the test cultivars. In temperate fruit zones with extended apple bloom periods, multiple applications of endothall at a low rate may be beneficial for reducing fruit set and biennial bearing.

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R.M. Skirvin and S. Sriskandarajah

Acclimatization and growth of in vitro-derived apple shoots of two apple scion apple cultivars were compared under fogged conditions in a greenhouse and in a commercial growth cabinet (Phototron). Plant survival rates of microcuttings of `Royal Gala' and `Jonagold' were significantly better when maintained in the Phototron units than when grown in a greenhouse under fog. The number and length of roots on microcuttings was significantly higher in the Phototron than under fog. In the present study, we demonstrated that the Phototron environment was better than a fogged greenhouse for establishing apple shoots ex vitro. However, the Phototron units are so small that they hold no more than 100 to 120 plants at a time. Therefore, the units will be of most value to growers or individuals in laboratories who do not have a constant need for acclimatization facilities. Growers who acclimatize many plants should continue to use fogging or misting facilities.

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C.J. Stanley and D.S. Tustin

Many factors contribute to final apple fruit size. Researchers have studied these factors and have developed models, some very complex. Results from many New Zealand regions over several years suggest that early season temperature along with crop load are the key factors driving final fruit size. Accumulated growing degree days from full bloom to 50 days after full bloom (DAFB), accounted for 90% of the variance in fruit weight of `Royal Gala' apples at 50 DAFB under nonlimiting low-crop-load conditions. In turn, fruit weight at 50 DAFB accounted for 90% of the variance in final fruit size at harvest under the low-crop-load conditions. We hypothesise that a potential maximum fruit size is set by 50 DAFB, determined by total fruit cell number, resulting from a temperature-responsive cell division phase. Under conditions of no limitations after the cell division phase, we suggest that all cells would expand to their optimum size to provide the maximum fruit size achievable for that cell number. Factors which affect growth partitioning among fruits, e.g., higher crop loads, would reduce final fruit size, for any given cell number, when grown in the same environment. In Oct. 1999, four different crop loads were established at full bloom on `Royal Gala' trees (M9 rootstock) in four climatically different regions. In Hawkes Bay, similar crop loads were established at 50 DAFB on additional trees. Hourly temperatures were recorded over the season. Fruit size was measured at 50 DAFB and fruit will be harvested in Feb. 2000. These data should provide fresh insight and discussion into the respective roles of temperature and competition during the cell division fruit growth phase on apple fruit size.

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Carlos Miranda, Luis G. Santesteban, and José B. Royo

The apical or king (K) flower in the apple (Malus ×domestica L. Borkh.) cluster usually develops and blooms first and also has a greater sink potential. For this reason, resources are primarily used by the K fruit, and this is also one of the reasons why most thinning practices tend to favor K fruit set. However, it is not always possible to retain the K flower and remove the lateral ones. This study was undertaken to determine if the removal of the most developed flowers in the cluster influences yield or quality compared to that obtained in a whole cluster. The treatments were made in `Golden Delicious' and `Royal Gala' apple cultivars, within a wide range of flower densities for each cultivar. The factor tested was the intensity of flower removal (FRI); the treatments consisted in removing one, two, or three flowers in each cluster. Flower density was used as a covariate in an analysis of covariance to account for differences in flower densities in response to FRI treatments. In all experiments the covariate was not significant; therefore FRI effect was not affected by flower density. `Golden Delicious' and `Royal Gala' had similar responses to flower removal, so that when at least three flowers in a cluster remained, fruit set and cluster yield were similar to whole clusters. Only when two or fewer poorly developed flowers remained after FRI treatments, yield was reduced by as much as 25%. Fruit from FRI clusters were even heavier than those from whole clusters, due to reduced competition among the fruit, so that the growth potential of fruit from the first and second lateral flowers was similar to clusters with K fruit, in clusters where the K flower had been removed.

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Jiregna Gindaba and Stephanie J.E. Wand

We investigated the effects of evaporative cooling (EC), kaolin particle film (KP) and 20% shade net (SN) on the control of sunburn, fruit temperature amelioration and fruit quality of `Cripps' Pink' and `Royal Gala' apples [Malus domestica Borkh.] under orchard conditions during the 2003–04 season in Stellenbosch, South Africa. On days with maximum air temperatures of 34 to 37 °C, SN fruit were 5.4 to 9.7 °C cooler, EC fruit were 3.1 to 5.8 °C cooler and KP fruit were 1.5 to 6.4 °C cooler compared to the control (nontreated, CO) fruit. SN was effective in reducing fruit temperature from mid-morning until midafternoon; KP was most effective during late morning and early afternoon but not at midday; EC was effective from late morning on days when EC was activated. SN, followed by KP, was the most effective technique for controlling sunburn in fruit of both cultivars, with EC being less effective. The different technologies reduced fruit blush color compared to the CO treatment, with SN showing the most reduction and EC the least. EC increased fruit mass compared to all other treatments in `Royal Gala', and also increased fruit diameter and mass compared to CO in `Cripps' Pink'. We conclude that under the high radiation levels experienced in South African apple production areas, technologies which reduce irradiance as well as fruit temperature (KP, SN) are more effective in reducing sunburn than those which only reduce fruit temperature (EC). However, radiation-reducing technologies are potentially detrimental to color development on blushed apples.

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Frank B. Matta, Crofton Sloan, and Shakeel Khan

Apple leaves from current seasons' growth at mid-season (July) and during dormancy (December) were used to determine the influence of various apple scion/rootstock combination on total non-structural carbohydrates (TNC). `Empire' and `Royal Gala' had higher foliar TNC at mid-season compared to `Ultra Gold' on MM.106. `Empire' had higher foliar TNC on Mark than on MM.111, M.7A and M.26. `Blushing Golden' had higher foliar TNC on MM.111 than on the remaining rootstock% There was no significant interaction between cultivar and rootstock. Foliar TNC During Dormancy: `Blushing Golden' had the highest and lowest foliar TNC on MM.111 and M.7A, respectively. Cultivar differences did not exist with any rootstock. Foliar TNC results of this study indicated that there was a higher foliar TNC percentage in leaves at mid-season compared to leaves during dormancy. Data indicated cultivar influences on foliar TNC only at the mid-season. It seems that cultivar differences in TNC might be due to an increase in TNC formation, which during dormancy was stabilized. Rootstock influenced foliar TNC both at mid-season and during dormancy.

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Rodger Tschanz, Dennis Murr, Len Wiley, and Kay Hustwit

The use of chemical thinners is an essential component of commercial apple production in Ontario. As chemical thinning options decrease, due to environmental concerns, newer and less toxic alternatives must be found. Benzyladenine (BA), available in the United States as Accel, shows promise as a thinning agent. During the 1994 growing season, Accel was applied under commercial conditions to seven apple cultivars—`McIntosh' (spur), Delicious `Starkrimson', `Empire', `Jonagold', `Golden Delicious', `Jonamac', and Gala `Royal Gala'. Application concentrations ranged from 50 to 75 ppm (a.i. BA), depending on cultivar. Mean king fruitlet diameter at time of application ranged from 9 to 12 mm. The thinning response of Accel was compared with that of traditional chemical (e.g., carbaryl, NAA, or both) or mechanical thinning treatments. At the concentrations used in this experiment, thinning with Accel was comparable or better than traditional methods in the case of `Gala', `Jonagold', `Empire', and `Golden Delicious'. In those cultivar trials displaying an acceptable Accel thinning response, a significant fruit size increase also was observed.