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Edward F. Durner and Thomas J. Gianfagna

Six-year-old peach trees [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] were sprayed with ethephon (100 mg·liter–1) in Oct. 1989, whitewashed in Jan. 1990, and sprayed with dormant oil on one or two dates in Mar. 1990 to study possible interactive effects on flower bud hardiness, pistil growth, time of bloom, and yield. Flower buds from ethephon-treated trees supercooled to a lower temperature [mean low temperature exotherm (MLTE) of –18.5C] than buds from nontreated trees (MLTE of –17.7C) in February; there was no main effect of whitewashing or any interaction with ethephon. No treatment effects on hardiness were detected in March. Ethephon-treated pistils were smaller than nontreated pistils, and pistils from buds on whitewashed trees were smaller than those on nonwhitewashed trees. No main effects or interactions of dormant oil on pistil size were detected. Ethephon and whitewashing delayed bud development during bloom, but prebloom oil application(s) had no effect. Buds from ethephon-treated and whitewashed trees were more tolerant of freezes during bloom than buds from oil-sprayed trees, and yield was enhanced by ethephon and whitewashing. Prebloom oil sprays reduced yield compared with controls. Chemical name used: 2-chloroethylphosphonic acid (ethephon).

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Dennis E. Deyton, Carl E. Sams, and John C. Cummins

Treatments of dormant oil, at rates of 0, 3, 6, 9, or 12 % (v/v), were sprayed until drip on four year old `Biscoe' peach trees on February 6, 1990. Another treatment was applied as a split application with 6 % applied on the previous application date and a second application of 6% solution applied on February 12. The internal atmosphere of bud and twig was modified by the oil treatment. The internal concentration of CO2 was elevated the morning following treatment and continued higher than the control for seven days. A second application Of 6% oil resulted in additional elevation of internal CO2. External evolution of CO2 of all oil treated twigs was 6 to 18% lower than the control 8 days after treatment. Bud phenology and bloom date of trees receiving higher rates of oil were slightly delayed.

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R.E. Myers, D.E. Deyton, and C.E. Sams

Spurs of `Starkspur Delicious' trees were dipped in 0, 3, 6, 9 or 12% petroleum oil (dormant oil) or soybean oil emulsions on 26 January 1993. The spurs were cooled at 3C/hr until -9C or kept at 21C. After treatment, the flower buds on spurs were forced at 20C for 11 days and then dissected. The cambium and xylem of the spurs and the interior of the flower buds were rated for damage as indicated by browning. The experiment was repeated at the silver tip stage of buds (early March) except that treated spurs were exposed to 20C, -6C, or -9C. Neither the oil treatments nor low temperature exposure caused visual damage to flower buds or cambium in January. However, the oil treatments damaged flower buds at the silver tip stage (March). Neither petroleum or soybean oil caused visible damage to the xylem or cambium of the spurs.

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Dennis E. Deyton, Carl E. Sams, and John C. Cummins

Treatments of single applications of 0%, 3%, 6%, 9%, or 12% dormant oil were sprayed on peach (Prunus persica L. Batsch) trees on 6 Feb. 1990. A repeat application of 6% oil plus 6% oil applied 6 days later was also made. Internal CO 2 concentrations of oil-treated buds and twigs were higher than the control the day after treatment and continued to be higher for 6 days. The second application of 10% oil prolonged the elevated CO2 concentration. Applications of 9% or 12% oil delayed flower bud development and bloom. The repeated application of 6% oil delayed bud development and bloom more than a single application of 6% oil. Damage to fruit buds increased as oil concentration increased, but repeated application of 6% oil resulted in less damage than a single application of 12% oil.

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Dennis E. Deyton, Renae E. Moran, Carl E. Sams, and John C. Cummins

Applications of soybean oil to dormant peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] trees were tested for prebloom thinning of flower buds in five separate experiments. Data were combined from experiments in which 2.5% to 20% emulsified soybean oil was sprayed on `Belle of Georgia' or `Redhaven' trees. The number of dead flower buds was concentration-dependent with maximum bud kill of 53% occurring with application of 12% soybean oil. The amount of thinning was fairly consistent from year to year, ranging from 34% to 51% when 10% soybean oil was applied, but was less consistent when 5% was applied, ranging from 6% to 40%. Overthinning by midwinter applications of soybean oil occurred in one experiment when bud mortality on nontreated trees was 40% due to natural causes. Mild to moderate spring freezes occurred in three experiments, but did not reduce yield more in soybean oil–thinned than in nontreated trees. Flower bud survival was improved when trees were sprayed with 10% or 12% soybean oil prior to a –4 °C spring frost. Applications of soybean oil to dormant trees thinned flower buds, reduced the amount of hand thinning required, and hastened fruit maturity.

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Kitren Glozer and Charles Ingels

Pear growers in California's Sacramento River Delta and, to some extent, other pear-growing areas in California, use dormant oils for pest control and dormant bud growth stimulation. It is generally believed that well-timed applications can advance flowering, improve uniformity of flowering and fruit ripening, and improve vegetative budbreak. Traditionally, dormant oils have been applied in late December to mid-January, based on experience and calendar date. However, bud development and full bloom dates may differ from year to year, with variable weather cycles and chill accumulation experienced by the plant. In the 2004–05 dormant season, some dormant oil applications timed at intervals calculated by chill portions (defined by the Dynamic Model) advanced and compressed the bloom period. Fruit size (diameter and weight) and total estimated yield were improved by dormant oil treatments applied within a certain range of chill portion accumulation without reduction in total number of fruit per tree, while the percentage of undersized fruit was decreased by 65% to 83% when compared to the untreated control. The use of chill portions and the Dynamic Model to time applications of dormant oil appears to benefit fruit quality. Although chill was not limiting in the trial dormant season, there may be benefit even in years when chill accumulation is adequate.

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D.E. Deyton, C.E. Sams, and J.C. Cummins

Treatments of 0, 10, 20, 30, or 40% (v/v) refined (salad) or crude soybean oil or 0, 5, 10, 15, or 20% petroleum (dormant) oil at 0, 5, 10, 15, or 20% were sprayed until drip on `Smoothee' apple trees on 27 February 1991. The internal carbon dioxide concentration was elevated and the oxygen content reduced within one day in buds-twigs treated with oil and remained influenced for up to 12 days. All oil treatments delayed fruit bud development. The lowest tested concentration of soybean oil (either crude or refined) resulted in the greatest delay in bud development and the greatest delay in bloom (approximately 4 days). Crude soybean oil treatment resulted in less damage to flower buds than petroleum oil.

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D.E. Deyton, C.E. Sams, and C.D. Pless

Four-year-old `Gala' and `Widjit' apple trees with significant apple aphid populations were sprayed to runoff on 13 May 1994 with 0%, 0.5%, 1.0%, or 2.0% (v/v) emulsified degummed soybean oil (SO) or with 1.0% petroleum (dormant) oil (PO). Treatments were arranged in a randomized complete-block design with five single-tree replications. Apple aphid populations were determined on 10 tagged shoots per tree. The top fully expanded leaf of two randomly selected shoots per tree were tagged and net photosynthesis (Pn) and transpiration (Tr) measured. Trees treated with SO or PO had <20% as many aphids after treatment as nontreated trees. Trees treated with 2% SO had lower Pn and Tr than the control for 18 days after treatment. Spraying 0.1% or 0.5% SO caused less initial reduction of Pn than 2.0% SO, and the effect was shorter lasting. Four-year-old `Oregon Spur' and `Empire' were sprayed with 0%, 0.1%, 0.5%, 1.0% SO or PO on 26 June. Treatments were arranged in a randomized complete-block design with four single-tree replications. Pn rates of trees treated with 0.1% to 1.0% soybean oil were <40% of nontreated trees the day after treatment, but recovered to >80% of control in 5 days.

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Aroldo Rumayor Flores and Andres Martinez C.

During 1993–94, in an area with a subtropical climate, 1500 m elevation, and 300 mm of precipitation, an experiment with `Golden Delicious' apples/MM.111 under irrigation was conducted with 11 treatments with three replications in a completely randomized complete-block design: T1, manual defoliation (27 Sept.); T2, 1% CuSO4 (15 Oct.); T3, 2% CuSO4 + Promesol (acido 2,3,4 trihydroxipentanodioico) (22 Oct.); T4, 1% CuSO4 + 0.1% Atlox; T5, 1% CuSO4 + 0.2% Atlox; T6, 1% CuSO4 + 0.1% Frigate; T7, 1% CuSO4 + 2% urea; T8, 2% sulfur; T9, 500 ppm tiadizuron + 1% carboxil; T4–T9, defoliation 12 Nov.; T10, control (natural defoliation on 3 Dec.); T11, 2% ZnSO4 + 0.07 carboxil (8 Nov.). All treatments received Atlox surfactant at 0.1%, except T4 and T5. On 11 Mar. 1994, trees received an application of 0.5% Dormex + 4% dormant oil. The percentage of terminal budbreak on 1-year-old wood was superior for T6, T9, and T11 compared with the control (11.7% budbreak on 2-year-old wood) for all treatments (except T1 and T3); all the treatments were superior to the control (47% budbreak), especially T2 (72.6%) and T9 (70.0%). The percentage of fruit set was similar in all treatments with the control (15.0%), except in T2 and T3, which set 7% more fruit.

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Gregory L. Reighard and David R. Ouellette

Survival of peach flowers during spring or winter freezes and large fruit size at harvest are critical for profitable peach production in the Southeast. Delaying both bud swell in late winter and flower phenology in spring reduces the risk of flower bud death from cold temperatures. Preliminary research in Tennessee using soybean oil (SO) as a dormant oil spray in place of Superior oil showed SO delayed peach bloom, thinned flower buds, and increased fruit size. In 1997, a `Harvester' peach orchard in Monetta, S.C., and a `Redhaven' orchard near Clemson, S.C., were sprayed in early February with 0%, 6%, 8%, 10%, and 12% SO mixed with 1% (by volume) Latron B-1956. Number of dead flower buds and the flower bud stages for each SO treatment were recorded during the first pink to full bloom flowering period. Excess fruit were hand-thinned in late April. Fruit set, maturity date, weight, and yield/tree were taken. Bud death increased from 14% (control) to 17% to 20% at the 8%, 10%, and 12% SO rates for `Redhaven' and from 13% (control) to 21% at the 10% and 12% rates for `Harvester'. Phenology was delayed 3-4 days for `Redhaven' at 8%, 10%, and 12% SO, but no differences were noted in the `Harvester' trees. No differences in fruit maturity occurred. Fruit weight and yield/tree was higher for all `Harvester' SO treatments and the `Redhaven' 10% and 12% SO treatments. No shoot phytotoxicity was observed.