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R.S. Johnson, D.F. Handley, and T.M. DeJong

Early maturing peach trees [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch cv. Regina] growing on a deep sandy loam soil were subjected to three levels of postharvest irrigation over 4 years. The control treatment was irrigated with ≈ 10 to 15 cm of water at 2- to 3-week intervals, the medium treatment received a single irrigation (20 to 30 cm) in early August, and the dry treatment was not irrigated between early to mid-June and mid-October. All received a predormancy irrigation of 10 to 15 cm in mid- to late October. Flower and fruit density were greater in the dry treatment than the control. The occurrence of double fruit was also greatly increased in the dry treatment but not in the medium treatment, when compared with the control. After normal commercial hand thinning, yields and fruit size were no different among the three treatments over all 4 years. Vegetative growth as measured by dormant pruning weights, trunk radial growth, and canopy shaded area was reduced in the dry treatment, but there was no indication of progressively declining vigor. Soil moisture determinations indicate that water use by the control occurred mainly in the upper soil profile. In the dry treatment, as the upper profile dried, water was extracted progressively deeper, down to at least 300 cm. The main disadvantage of severe postharvest water stress was the substantial increase of double fruits.

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I. Klein, T.M. DeJong, S.A. Weinbaum, and T.T. Muraoka

Exposure to photosynthetically active radiation and the consequent effect on leaf mass per unit leaf area (SLW) and nitrogen (percent dry weight and μg·mm-2) allocation within tree canopies was investigated in walnut (Juglans regia `Serr' and `Hartley') trees. Percent contribution of discrete light flux densities below light saturation (100-700 μmol·s-1·m-2) to the total light exposure of individual spurs, exposed up to 9 hour·day-1 to saturating light (>700 μmol·s-1·m-2), was minimal (<1 hour), indicating that individual spurs were either exposed or shaded most of the day. SLW and N content per unit leaf area of individual spurs were highly correlated (second-order polynomial curve fit) with light exposure within the tree canopy, indicating uneven allocation of available N for optimal utilization. Nitrogen expressed as percent dry weight was not correlated with light exposure and SLW. Leaf N content per leaf area was highly correlated (linear fit) with SLW.

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F.J.A. Niederholzer, T.M. DeJong, J.-L. Saenz, T.T. Muraoka, and S.A. Weinbaum

Marginally nitrogen (N)-deficient, field-grown peach trees [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch (Peach Group) 'O' Henry'] were used to evaluate seasonal patterns of tree N uptake, vegetative growth, and yield following fall or spring fertilization. Sequential tree excavations and determinations of tree biomass and N contents in Feb. and Aug. allowed estimation of N uptake by fall-fertilized trees between September 1993 and mid-February 1994. Total N uptake (by difference) by spring- fertilized trees as well as additional N uptake by fall-fertilized trees over the spring.summer period was also determined. In fall-fertilized trees, only 24% of tree N accumulation between September 1993 and August 1994 occurred during the fall/dormancy period. Spring- and fall-fertilized trees exhibited comparable vegetative growth, fruit size, and yield despite lower dormant tree N contents and tissue N concentrations in the spring-fertilized trees. Fifty percent of tree leaf N content was available for resorption from leaves for storage in woody tree parts. This amount (N at ~30.kghhhhhhha-1) was calculated to represent more than 80% of the N storage capacity in perennial tree parts of fertilized peach trees. Our data suggest that leaf N resorption, even without fall soil N application, can provide sufficient N from storage to initiate normal growth until plant-available soil N is accessed in spring.

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X. Deng, S.A. Weinbaum, T.M. DeJong, and T.T. Muraoka

Abortion of distillate flowers (PFA) in a protandrous cultivar of walnut (Juglans regia L. cv. Serr) was increased by N deficiency. Starch and N concentrations in wood of 2-year-old twigs decreased to minimal levels during abortion of distillate flowers. Nitrogen reserves in woody tissues were reduced by foliar N deficiency, as were concentrations of sugars and N in vacuum-extracted xylem sap. Abortive distillate flowers ceased growth before spur leaves reached 50% of full expansion. PFA may result from transient deficiencies of C and N during the spring flush of growth. Depletion of storage C and N was accentuated before maturation of distillate flowers in this cultivar by the metabolic demands of many catkins, spur growth, and leaf expansion.

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I. Klein, S.A. Weinbaum, T.M. DeJong, and T.T. Muraoka

Localized and carry-over effects of light exposure [as inferred from specific leaf weight (SLW)] on spur viability, flowering, and fruit set were monitored in selected spurs throughout walnut (Juglans regia, cvs. Serr and Hartley) tree canopies. Shaded spurs (i.e., average SLW <4 mg·cm-2) were predisposed to die during the winter, and spur mortality was accentuated among spurs that had borne fruit that season. More catkins and distillate flowers per spur were characteristic of the more exposed positions within the canopy (as indicated by SLW) during the previous summer and following an “off” year. In exposed `Serr' canopy positions (SLW >5 mg·cm-2), catkin and Pistillate flower maturation was reduced in fruiting spurs by 60% and 30%, respectively, in the subsequent year relative to vegetative spurs. In `Hartley', the number of distillate flowers was also reduced by 35% on spurs that fruited the previous year relative to spurs that had been vegetative. Maximum rates of return bloom and fruit set were evident in spurs exhibiting the highest SLW and N per unit leaf area (NA), specific to each cultivar. Among spurs of both cultivars, distillate flower development was more sensitive to shading in the previous season than was catkin development. Shell weight of `Serr' varied positively with SLW, but kernel weight, fruit N, and oil concentration did not vary “with SLW in either cultivar.

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J. Girona, M. Mata, D.A. Goldhamer, R.S. Johnson, and T.M. DeJong

Seasonal patterns of soil water content and diurnal leaf water potential (LWP), stomatal conductance(gs), and net CO2 assimilation (A) were determined in a high-density peach [Prunus persica(L) Batsch cv. Cal Red] subjected to regulated deficit irrigation scheduling. The regulated deficit irrigation treatment caused clear differences in soil water content and predawn LWP relative to control irrigation treatments. Treatment differences in midday LWP, gs, and A were also significant, but not as distinct as differences in predawn LWP. Leaves on trees subject of the deficit irrigation treatment were photosynthetically more water-use-efficient during the latter part of the stress period than were the nonstressed trees. Midday LWP and gs, on trees that received the regulated deficit irrigation treatment did not recover to control treatment values until more than 3 weeks after full irrigation was resumed at the beginning of state III of fruit growth, because of water infiltration problems in the dry soil caused by the deficit irrigation. The regulated deficit irrigation treatment caused only a 8% reduction in trunk growth relative to the control, but resulted in a 40% savings in irrigation requirements.

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T.M. DeJong, K.R. Day, R. Beede, and R.S. Johnson

Current recommendations for fruit thinning of processing clingstone peaches in California suggest that growers delay thinning until an assessment of fruit size is made at reference date (10 days after first indications of pit hardening) and then adjust the crop load according to the fruit size attained. Recent research on modelling peach fruit growth indicates that delaying thinning until reference date (usually mid-May) can substantially limit final fruit size potential and crop yield when initial fruit set is heavy. In 1991 we initialed a field study to lest these model predictions and evaluate the yield response and economic feasibility of fruit thinning within 50 days of bloom to a specific crop load. The experiment was conducted in commercial orchards of the extra-early maturing cling peach cultivars Loadel and Carson. Three thinning treatments involved thinning different sets of trees on April 10, April 30, (∼30 and 50 dafb) and May 23 (reference date). Although costs of thinning at the earlier dates were 140-290% of thinning at reference date the increase in yield resulting from early thinning more than compensated for the higher thinning costs. There were no major effects of thinning treatment on the occurrence of split pits or other quality characteristics. This research has stimulated a re-evaluation of commercial fruit thinning practices used for clingstone peaches in California.

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D.A Grantz, W.A. Retzlaff, L.E. Williams, and T.M. DeJong

Models indicate that ozone inhibits carbon assimilation largely in the upper canopy, due to light and ozone gradients. We document yield reductions and ozone gradients in Casselman plum in open-top ozone fumigation chambers. Ambient air (12 hr mean ozone = 0.050 ppm), charcoal filtered air (0.034 ppm) and ambient air plus added ozone (0.094 ppm) were circulated in the chambers. Additional trees grew outside the chambers (0.058 ppm). Outside the chambers large vertical and horizontal gradients in ozone within the canopy were documented, but these were absent in the chambers. Ozone decreased leaf photosynthesis by 31% and 58%, and fruit yield by 20% and 66%, in the ambient and ozone enriched relative to filtered chambers. Despite altered gradients, yield and photosynthesis of exposed leaves were similar inside and outside the chambers in ambient air. Compensatory changes in leaf function may be involved.

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T.M. DeJong, W. Tsuji, J.F. Doyle, and Y.L. Grossman

A clingstone peach (Prunus persica L. Batsch `Ross' on `Nemaguard' rootstock) orchard was established at the Univ. of California Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier, for evaluating the economic efficiency of three high-density planting systems in comparison with the conventional Open Vase system. The orchard contained four replicate plots (0.80 ha/plot), each containing four different planting systems. The four planting/training systems (in-row spacing given first) were: the “KAC-V” (a perpendicular V system spaced 2.0 × 5.5 m, 919 trees/ha); the “HiD KAC V” (spaced 1.8 × 4.6 m, 1196 trees/ha); the “Cordon” (spaced 2.4 × 4.0 m, with perpendicular harvest drives 4.8 m every 22 m and tree height limited to 2.5 m, 919 trees/ha); and the “Open Vase” (spaced 6.1 × 5.5 m, 299 trees/ha). All system-specific costs and crop yields were recorded annually on each subplot for the first 5 years. Although the Cordon system had the highest yields in the second year, the V systems had the highest returns after 5 years. Cumulative costs were: HiD KAC-V system > KAC-V ≥ Cordon > Open Vase. The system that was designed to maintain tree height <2.5 m (Cordon) tended to be less profitable than the V systems because of modest crop yields and high pruning costs that were not offset by increased harvest efficiency. In the last 3 years of the study, pruning, thinning, and harvesting accounted for the majority of the system-specific costs.

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S.P. Castagnoli, T.M. DeJong, S.A. Weinbaum, and R.S. Johnson

Premature defoliation of peach and nectarine (Prunus persica L. Batsch) trees resulting from foliar applications of ZnSO4 reduced N remobilization that typically occurs during leaf senescence. Leaf N remobilization in unsprayed control trees ranged from 45% to 50%, irrespective of tree N status. Leaf N remobilization in trees receiving foliar applications of ZnSO4 ranged from a positive influx of N into the leaf to ≈30% of the N remobilized, depending on ZnSO4 application timing and method of expressing leaf N levels. Early ZnSO4 applications resulted in less N remobilization. Measuring leaf N on an area basis was a more precise indicator of N remobilization than N per unit dry weight, because leaf weight per unit area changes during leaf senescence.