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Gabino H. Reginato, Víctor García de Cortázar, and Terence L. Robinson

Several field experiments to assess the effect of tree size and crop load on fruit size and yield efficiency were conducted in cling peach and nectarine orchards of different harvest seasons in Chile. Trees were randomly selected in each orchard and then hand-thinned at the beginning of pit hardening to a wide range of crop loads. The fraction of above-canopy photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) intercepted by the canopy (PAR i) was determined at harvest. All fruits were counted and weighed and average fruit weight calculated. Crop load and yield were normalized by tree size measured by intercepted PAR i. For each orchard, the relationship between crop load and fruit size or crop load and yield efficiency was assessed by regression analysis. Fruit size distribution was calculated from fruit size adjusted for fruit load assuming a normal fruit size distribution and valued according to shipment date and price obtained from a Chilean export company. Using crop load as a covariate, fruit size adjusted for crop load was compared for nectarine and peach cultivars. Fruit size adjusted for fruit load and yield efficiency was greater with late season cultivars than the early or midseason cultivars. Predicted crop value (PCV), normalized in terms of PAR intercepted, was calculated for all the cultivars. Large differences in predicted crop value were found for early, midseason, and late ripening nectarines. Early and late ripening cultivars had the highest predicted crop value, especially at lower crop loads and larger fruit sizes. The early season cultivars had high crop value as a result of higher fruit prices, whereas the late season cultivar had high crop value as a result of higher production. With cling peaches, the early season cultivar ‘Jungerman’ had a lower predicted crop value than the late season cultivars ‘Ross’ and ‘Davis’. For cling peaches, the highest PCV was achieved at a relatively high crop load with high yield and small fruit size.

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

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Jens N. Wünsche, Alan N. Lakso, and Terence L. Robinson

Four methods of estimating daily light interception (fisheye photography with image analysis, multiple-light sensors, ceptometer, and point grid) were compared using various apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) tree forms: slender spindle, Y- and T-trellises, and vertical palmette. Interactions of tree form, time of day, and atmospheric conditions with light interception estimates were examined. All methods were highly correlated to each other (r 2 > 0.92) for estimated daily mean percent total light interception by the various tree forms, except that the point grid method values were slightly lower. Interactions were found among tree form, time of day, and diffuse/direct radiation balance on estimated light interception, suggesting that several readings over the day are needed under clear skies, especially in upright canopies. The similar results obtained by using the point grid method (counting shaded/exposed points on a grid under the canopy) on clear days may allow rapid, simple, and inexpensive estimates of orchard light interception.

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Warren C. Stiles, Terence L. Robinson, and W. Shaw Reid

Experiments conducted since 1986 indicate that multi-nutrient fertigation may be effective in improving early growth and yield of new orchards. However, the early studies did not provide information concerning the contributions of individual nutrient elements to these responses. Experiments were established in 1993 and 1994 to compare effectiveness of alternative sources, rates, and methods of applying K, Zn, and Cu through drip irrigation compared with annual soil surface applications to `McIntosh'/M.9 and `Empire'/M.9 trees. After 3 years, leaf K, cumulative shoot growth, and first crop year yields were increased by application of K. Differences between sources, rates, times, or methods of application generally were not significant when relatively high rates were applied. However, early results from a rate study indicate a significant K source by rate interaction. Soil surface application of K plus drip irrigation appears to be comparable to fertigation in supplying this element. After 2 years, applying EDTA chelates of Zn and Cu through fertigation increased leaf Zn and Cu, respectively, but high rates required are considered to be uneconomical when compared with foliar sprays of these elements.

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Gennaro Fazio, Herb S. Aldwinckle, Terence L. Robinson, and James Cummins

The Geneva® Apple Rootstock Breeding program initiated in 1968 by Cummins and Aldwinckle of Cornell University and continued as a joint breeding program with the USDA-ARS since 1998, has released a new dwarf apple rootstock named Geneva® 41 or G.41. G.41 (a progeny from a 1975 cross of `Malling 27' × `Robusta 5') is a selection that has been tested at the N.Y. State Agricultural Experiment Station, in commercial orchards in the United States, and at research stations across the United States, Canada, and France. G.41 is a fully dwarfing rootstock with vigor similar to M.9 T337, but with less vigor than M.9 Pajam2. It is highly resistant to fire blight and Phytophthora with no tree death from these diseases in field trials or inoculated experiments. G.41 has also shown tolerance to replant disease. Its precocity and productivity have been exceptional, equaling M.9 in all trials and surpassing M.9 in some trials. It also confers excellent fruit size and induces wide crotch angles in the scion. It appears to be very winter hardy and showed no damage following the test winter of 1994 in New York. Propagation by layering in the stool bed G.41 is not consistent and may require higher layering planting densities or tissue culture mother plants to improve its rooting. G.41 also produces some side shoots in the stool bed. The nursery liners of G.41 produce a smaller tree than G.16 liners, but similar to M.9, which is very acceptable. Unlike G.16, G.41 is not sensitive to latent viruses. G.41 has similar graft union strength to M.9 and requires a trellis or individual tree stake when planted in the orchard. Suggested orchards planting densities with this rootstock are 2,000-4,000 trees/ha. This rootstock has been released for propagation and commercial sale by licensed nurseries.

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Gennaro Fazio, Herb S. Aldwinckle, Terence L. Robinson, and James Cummins

The Geneva® Apple Rootstock Breeding program, which was initiated in 1968 by Dr. James Cummins and Dr. Herb Aldwinckle of Cornell University and which has been continued as a joint breeding program with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) since 1998, has released a new semi-dwarfing apple rootstock which is named Geneva® 935 or G.935. G.935 (a progeny from a 1976 cross of `Ottawa 3' × `Robusta 5') is a selection that has been widely tested at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y., in commercial orchards in the United States and at research stations across the United States and Canada. G.935 is a semi-dwarfing rootstock that produces a tree slightly larger than M.26. G.935 is the most precocious and productive semi-dwarf rootstock we have released. It has had similar yield efficiency to M.9 along with excellent fruit size and wide crotch angles. It showed no symptoms of winter damage during the 1994 test winter in N.Y. G.935 is resistant to fire blight and Phytophthora; however. it is susceptible to infestations by woolly apple aphids. G.935 has shown tolerance to replant disease complex in several trials. It has good propagation characteristics in the stool bed and produces a large tree in the nursery. G.935 has better graft union strength than M.9, but will require a trellis or individual tree stake in the orchard to support the large crops when the tree is young. G.935 will be a possible replacement for M.26. Suggested orchards planting densities with this rootstock are 1,500-2,500 trees/ha. It has been released for propagation and sale by licensed nurseries. Liners will be available in the near future.

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Warren C. Stiles, Terence L. Robinson, and W. Shaw Reid

Fertilizer treatments were applied by spreading over an herbicide-treated in-row strip, with or without irrigation using single-drip emitters per tree, or through drip irrigation. Distribution of nutrients in soils was evaluated by analysis of soil samples collected at various depths and distances from the irrigation emitters at the end of the 8-year experimental period. NO3-N was increased in the 0- to 40-cm depth by soil surface application but below 40 cm with fertigation. Fertigation increased P in the wetted zone within the 0- to 40-cm depths. Surface application of K increased levels primarily in the 0- to 20-cm zone, while fertigation increased K to depths of 80 cm. Zinc and Cu concentrations were increased by fertigation to 80-cm depth. In general, nutrients applied to the soil surface were less readily moved into the soil profile, while fertigation resulted in greater movement of nutrients to greater depths within the wetted zone of soil.

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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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James R. Schupp, James R. McFerson, and Terence L. Robinson

A tank mix of fish oil plus liquid lime sulfur has proven to be an effective chemical thinner for apples in the bloom and postbloom periods. This combination was labeled for use as a chemical thinner in Washington State in 2003. There are several concerns with fish oil when used in this thinning mixture. Phytotoxicity is one concern. Apple growers have a reluctance to utilize this oil because of its expense and repulsive odor. Research to date has been conducted using oil from a single small source in Washington State. Shipping fish oil across the country is expensive and the consistency and purity of fish oil from other sources is unknown. Fish oil may function as a surfactant and penetrant, and it may also have a direct thinning effect. The objective of these studies was to evaluate the efficacy of several surfactants and oils in combination with lime sulfur for thinning apples. Lime sulfur has been less effective as a thinner when used alone than when used with oil in our studies. Regulaid, LI-700, and Silwet L-77 were shown to be less effective than oils for achieving thinning. Vegetable oil has been very effective in the thinning combination, while petroleum oils have been effective in some eastern U.S. trials, but less effective in the west. Tank mixing fish oil with lime sulfur has remained among the best treatments in our trials, while vegetable oil also shows promise.

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Terence L. Robinson, Alison M. DeMarree, and Stephen A. Hoying

We performed an economic analysis of five orchard production systems [Slender Pyramid/M.26 (840 trees/ha), Vertical Axis/M.9 (1538 trees/ha), Slender Axis/M.9 (2244 trees/ha), Tall Spindle/M.9 (3312 trees/ha), and Super Spindle (5382 trees/ha)] using composite yield and labor usage data from several replicated research plots in New York state. Other costs and fruit returns were averages from a group of commercial fruit farms in New York state. The systems varied in costs of establishment from a low of $18,431/ha for the Slender Pyramid system to high of $47,524/ha for the Super Spindle system. The large differences in establishment costs were largely related to tree density. All of the systems had a positive internal rate of return (IRR) and net present value (NPV) after 20 years. They ranged from a low of 7.5% IRR for the Slender Pyramid system to a high of 11.1% IRR for the Slender Axis system. Profitability, as measured by NPV, was curvilinearly related to tree density with intermediate densities giving greater profitability than the highest densities. The optimum density was 2600 trees/ha when NPV was calculated per hectare, but only 2200 trees/ha when NPV was calculated per $10,000 invested. The earliest break-even year was 10 for the Slender Axis and Tall Spindle systems. The latest break-even year was 13 for the Slender Pyramid. An estimate of the number of hectares required to produce a $100,000 annual profit to the business was 222 for the slender pyramid system and 84–104 ha of the three best systems (Super Spindle, Tall Spindle, and Slender Axis). The analysis revealed that efforts to control establishment costs of land, trees and support system can substantially increase lifetime profits.