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Terence L. Robinson, Alan N. Lakso, and Zhongbo Ren

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Martin C. Goffinet, Alan N Lakso, and Mary Jean Welser

Winter buds of `Concord' and `Niagara' grapevines were dissected and their embryonic clusters scored to developmental stage. Stage was regressed against flower and fruit number per cluster the following year to see if flowering or fruiting potential could be gauged from bud morphology. `Concord' vines were either minimal-pruned (MP) or balance-pruned (BP) and non-irrigated or provided supplemental irrigation. `Niagara' vines were BP vines which were non-irrigated, irrigated, or nitrogen fertigated. Winter buds of MP `Concord' were significantly less developed than buds of BP vines, and flower and fruit number per cluster also significantly less. Irrigation did not affect bud construction or flower or fruit number per cluster in either pruning regime. Winter buds of `Niagara' had similar cluster stages in all treatments and there were similar flower and fruit number per cluster the following season. Within cultivar and year, there was a positive linear relationship between mean flower number or fruit number per cluster and mean stage of cluster differentiation within buds the previous dormant period. In `Concord', a given winter cluster stage allowed production of significantly more flowers and fruit in 1992 than it did in 1993. A bud's flowering potential thus varies from year to year and depends on factors not solely related to bud morphology.

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Martin C. Goffinet, Alan N. Lakso, and Terence L. Robinson

For 4 years, six-flowered clusters on 20, unthinned, open-pollinated `Empire'/MM106 trees were labeled at bloom and fruit drop monitored at the king (K) and lateral positions L1 (basal) to L5 (distal) (100 to 120 clusters/year). Depending on year, fruit dropped in 1, 2, or 3 major periods by 8 weeks postbloom (PB), with total percent dropped between 65% and 75%. K fruit dropped least, L4 and L5 most. Trends were that K fruit at October harvest were largest and heaviest (significantly so in some years) and L5 fruit smallest. In nine trees, hand-thinned to single-fruited spurs at 12 days PB, where the fruit at the retained position was known, there was no statistical difference in fruit weight, fruit size, or seed count between cluster positions at final harvest, although L5 fruit tended to be smallest. Numbers of spurs labeled varied from 45 to 72. Percent fruit retained at each position at October harvest was K = 89%, L1 or L2 = 87%, L3 = 83%, L4 = 83%, and L5 = 85%. Presumably, in unthinned trees the limited resources are preferentially taken by the K fruit, which especially seems to reduce set and size of its nearest lateral fruit. However, in thinned trees under lighter cropping stresses, a fruit retained at any of the positions within a cluster has a similar potential for achieving the size and weight typically seen in king fruit.

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Martin C. Goffinet, James R. McFerson, and Alan N. Lakso

In 2002 in New York State, we collected king fruit of `Gala' and `Red Delicious' on fruiting spurs from 0 to 66 days after full bloom (DAB). In 2003 in Washington State, we collected king fruit of these cultivars from 14 to 62 DAB. At each collection we determined radial cell number across the fruit cortex and developmental stage of the embryo and endosperm in seeds. Fruit diameter was slightly greater in Washington fruit than in New York fruit until about 40 DAB; thereafter, New York `Delicious' outgrew Washington `Delicious', while `Gala' in the two climates (and two different years) grew identically. The New York fruits had a much earlier rise in fruit growth rate and maintained a slightly higher rate throughout the period. The cortex thickness of Washington fruit was greater than that of New York fruit for both cultivars. Most rapid cell division in the cortex occurred between 10 and 28 DAB and, by 40 DAB, most cell proliferation had ceased. The Washington fruit formed more cells across the radius than did New York fruit. Cortex thickness increased with respect to increase in cortex cell number about 30% to 40% faster in Washington fruit than in New York fruit. Developmental stages of embryos and endosperm followed a sigmoid time pattern for both cultivars in both states. By 60 DAB, embryos and endosperm reached their maximum stage of development. In both cultivars and states, cell divisions were nearly completed by the time the embryo and endosperm approached stage 3: for embryos this is the heart-shaped stage, for endosperm it is near completion of cell wall formation. The completion of wall formation in the endosperm, the near completion of cortex cell division, and the generation of the cotyledons and apical meristems in the embryo are highly correlated processes. We saw no evidence that endosperm development precedes embryo development.

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Terence L. Robinson, Alan N. Lakso, and Stephen G. Carpenter

A field planting of `Empire' and `Redchief Delicious' apple trees (Malus domestics Borkh.) was established in 1978 to evaluate four planting systems: 1) slender spindle/M.9, 2) Y-trellis/M.26, 3) central leader/M.9/MM.111, and 4) central leader/M.7a. During the first 5 years, yields per hectare for `Empire' were positively correlated with tree density. In the second 5 years, the Y-trellis/M.26 trees produced the highest yields while yields of the other systems continued to be related to tree density. Cumulative yields were highest with the Y-trellis/M.26 trees. With `Delicious', the Y-trellis/M.26 yields were greatest during all 10 years despite lower tree density than the slender spindle/M.9. Yields of `Delicious' with the other three systems were a function of tree density during the 10 years. At maturity, canopy volume per tree was greatest on the central leader/M.7a trees and smallest on the slender spindle/M.9 trees; however, there were no significant differences in canopy volume per hectare between the systems despite large differences in yield. Trunk cross sectional area (TCA) per hectare was greatest with the Y-trellis/M.26 trees and smallest with the central leader/M.7 trees. Yield was highly correlated to TCA/ha. Yield efficiency with `Empire' was greatest for the slender spindle/M.9 system, followed by the Y-trellis/M.26, central leader/M.9/MM.111, respectively. With both cultivars, the central leader/M.7a system had the lowest yield efficiency. With `Delicious', there were no differences in yield efficiency for the other three systems. The greater yield of the Y-trellis/M.26 system was the result of greater TCA/ha and not greater efficiency. `Empire' fruit size was largest on the central leader/M.7a and the central leader/M.9/MM.111 trees and smallest on the slender spindle/M.9 and the Y-trellis/M.26 trees. With `Delicious', fruit size was larger with the Y-trellis/M.26 trees than the other systems. When fruit size was adjusted for crop density, there were no significant differences due to system with `Empire', but with `Delicious' the Y-trellis/M.26 trees had larger adjusted fruit size than the other systems. Crop density calculated using TCA correlated better to fruit size than did crop density calculated using annual increase in TCA, canopy volume, or land area. Fruit color and quality with `Redchief Delicious' were not influenced by system. With `Empire', average fruit color and soluble solids content were lower for the Y-trellis/M.26 and slender spindle/M.9 in some years when canopy density was allowed to become. excessive.

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Alan N. Lakso, Robert M. Pool, Richard Dunst, and Andy Fendinger

Cover crops are of increasing interest in fruit plantings. Previous studies indicated that, in unirrigated New York vineyards, effects of row middle cover crops is primarily competition for soil water. Row middle management trials in `Concord' vineyards compared cover crops (orchardgrass, bluegrass, vetch, clover, and rye) to straw mulch, bloom glyphosate, and cultivation for water use patterns. Neutron probe tubes within each plot were read weekly at 15-cm intervals down to 120 cm. A second method to examine water use patterns used double florist pots with native soil sunken within the plots to provide a removable sample of the cover. These pots were lifted and weighed at intervals to examine in situ water use. The pot weight loss data generally correlated well with the neutron probe data. Precautions are needed related to differences in natural rooting depth, more rapid drying of pot vs. normal soil volume and representativeness of plant cover and health. The neutron probe method gives more complete data, but the pot method may be a useful simple, inexpensive method of examining relative water use patterns of cover crops with natural boundary layers that exist in discontinuous fruit plantings.

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Jens N. Wünsche, Alan N. Lakso, Terence L Robinson, Fritz Lenz, and Steven S. Denning

Although apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) system yield differences are generally related to whole-canopy light interception, this study tested the hypothesis that these orchard yields are related primarily to total light intercepted by the spur canopy. Seasonal leaf area development of different shoot types, exposed bourse shoot leaf net photosynthesis, fruit growth, whole canopy light interception (by image analysis of fisheye photographs) and relative light interception by different shoot types (by a laser assisted canopy scanning device) were estimated within four 14-year-old `Empire' apple production systems (slender spindle/M.9, central leader/M.7, central leader/M.9/MM.111 and Y-trellis/M.26). The final LAI values were CL/M.7 = 1.8, CL/9/111 = 2.3, SS/M.9 = 2.6 and Y/M.26 = 3.6. Exposed leaf net photosynthesis showed few differences and was not dependent upon the production system. Yields of the pyramidal shaped tree forms were 40 to 42 t·ha-1 while Y-trellis produced 59 t·ha-1, with similar fruit sizes. Again, yields were primarily related to the percentage of light intercepted by the whole canopy, 48% to 53% for conic forms versus 62% for the Y-trellis system. Laser analyses showed that the Y-trellis system intercepted about 20% to 30% more light with the spur canopy than the conic tree forms, supporting the hypothesis. Yields were better correlated with spur canopy LAI and spur canopy light interception than with extension shoot canopy LAI and light interception.

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Chris B. Watkins, Randolph M. Beaudry, Terence L. Robinson, and Alan N. Lakso

ReTain™, a commercial plant growth regulator containing aminoethoxyvinylglycine, an inhibitor of ethylene production, was applied 4 weeks before normal harvest to `Jonagold' trees and the effects on fruit maturity and quality at harvest, and quality after air and controlled atmosphere storage was investigated. When fruit were harvested from 3 to 6 weeks after treatment, fruit ripening was inhibited as indicated by lower internal ethylene concentrations, delayed starch hydrolysis, and lower levels of skin greasiness. A number of factors indicated that other aspects of fruit metabolism were affected by the compound. Treated fruit were softer than nontreated fruit at the first harvest, and the benefits of ReTain on firmness appeared only at the later harvests. Also, at each harvest date, average fruit weight of ReTain-treated fruit was lower than nontreated fruit. We have investigated the possibility the ReTain and/or the accompanying surfactant, Silwet, inhibited leaf photosynthesis, thereby leading to altered carbon metabolism. Trees were unsprayed, or sprayed with surfactant, and ReTain plus surfactant. No treatment effects on photosynthesis were detected. However, leaf photosynthesis rates were generally low and quite variable. Measurements of fruit diameter confirmed that the increase in fruit volume following treatment was ≈2% less on the ReTain plus surfactant-treated fruit than nontreated fruit. The increase in fruit volume for the Silwet treatment was ≈1.5% less than in untreated fruit. The data indicates a rapid change in fruit volume as fruit changed in color. Inhibition of ethylene by ReTain may be an important factor influencing fruit size.

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Jens-Norbert Wünsche, Alan N. Lakso, Steven S. Denning, and Terence L. Robinson

A 14-year-old trial of `Empire' apple production systems (Slender Spindle/M9, Central Leaders on M7 and 9/111 interstems, and Y-trellis/M26) had shown significant yield differences that were primarily related to total light interception, but yield of fruit/MJ light interception, however, was still higher in the Y-trellis. The hypothesis tested was that in healthy orchards yields are related primarily tototal light intercepted by the spur canopy. In 1991 seasonal leaf area development, exposed leaf photosynthesis, fruit growth, total light interception (by image analysis of fisheye photos) and relative light interception by different shoot types (by a laser sunbeam simulator) were estimated. The results reflected the mature, spurry nature of these trees. The final LAI values were CL/7=1.8, CL/9/111=2.3, SS/9=2.6 and Y/26=3.6. Exposed leaf photosynthesis showed few differences. Yields of the pyramid forms were 40-42 t/ha while Y-trellis gave 59 t/ha, with similar fruit sizes. Again, yields were primarily related to % total light interception (48-53% for pyramid forms versus 62% for the Y). Laser analyses showed that the Y intercepted more light with the spur canopy than the pyramid forms, supporting the hypothesis. Yields were better correlated with spur canopy LAI and spur canopy light interception than with shoot canopy LAI and light interception.

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Duane W. Greene, Alan N. Lakso, Terence L. Robinson, and Phillip Schwallier

Previous reports have provided evidence that measuring fruit growth rate may be a viable method to predict if a fruit will abscise or persist through the June drop period. A series of experiments were carried out over several years to develop a procedure that could be used to predict the response to a chemical thinner application within 7 to 8 days after application and before thinners exhibit their final effect. The procedure developed involves tagging 105 spurs on seven individual trees distributed appropriately in the orchard. A minimum of two measurements must be made, one 3 to 4 days after application and again 7 to 8 days after application. This model requires that fruit measurement should not start before fruit grow to a diameter of 6 mm and individual fruit within a spur should be numbered and identified. The model is based on the assumption that if fruit growth rate of a particular fruit over the measurement period is less than 50% of the growth rate of the fastest growing fruit on the tree during the same growth period, it will abscise, whereas if fruit growth rate exceeds 50% of the growth rate of the fastest growing fruit, it will persist. All data can be entered into an Excel spreadsheet and the output in the summary page gives the predicted fruit set expressed as percentage of the total number of fruit present. The strategy for crop load adjustment with chemical thinners has evolved over the years to a point where most orchardists plan and are prepared to make two or more thinner applications. The dilemma associated with this approach is to determine if additional thinner applications are necessary. Up to this point a tool designed specifically to provide this information has not been developed.