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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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Jaume Lordan, Anna Wallis, Poliana Francescatto, and Terence L. Robinson

Choice of cultivar, training system, planting density, and rootstock affect orchard performance and profitability. To provide guidance to growers in northern cold climates on these choices, a field trial was established in Peru, Clinton County, NY, in 2002, with two apple cultivars (Honeycrisp and McIntosh). From 2002 through 2016, we compared Central Leader on ‘M.M.111’; Slender Pyramid on ‘M.26’ and ‘Geneva® 30’ (‘G.30’); Vertical Axis on ‘M.9 (Nic® 29)’ (‘M.9’), ‘Budagovsky 9’ (‘B.9’), and ‘G.16’; SolAxe on ‘M.9’, ‘B.9’, and ‘G.16’; and Tall Spindle on ‘M.9’, ‘B.9’, and ‘G.16’. Central Leader was planted at 539 trees/ha, Slender Pyramid at 1097 trees/ha, Vertical Axis and SolAxe at 1794 trees/ha, and Tall Spindle at 3230 trees/ha. Cumulative yield was higher with ‘McIntosh’ than with ‘Honeycrisp’. High planting densities (Tall Spindle) gave the highest cumulative yields (593 t·ha−1 on ‘McIntosh’ and 341 t·ha−1 on ‘Honeycrisp’). Tall Spindle (3230 trees/ha) on ‘M.9’ appeared to be the best option for ‘McIntosh’. On the other hand, for a weak-growing cultivar such as ‘Honeycrisp’, Tall Spindle on ‘B.9’ (366 t·ha−1) and Slender Pyramid (1097 trees/ha) on ‘G.30’ (354 t·ha−1) were the two combinations with the highest cumulative yield, largest fruit size (220–235 g), and greatest efficiency index (4.6–3.9 kg·cm−2).

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Jaume Lordan, Anna Wallis, Poliana Francescatto, and Terence L. Robinson

Orchard profitability relies on multiple factors such as cultivar, planting density, training system, rootstock, and fruit quality but is also strongly affected by growing climate and soil resources. To evaluate orchard profitability in a northern cold climate, a field trial was planted in Peru, Clinton County, NY, in 2002, with two apple cultivars (Honeycrisp and McIntosh), where we compared the Central Leader (CL) training system on ‘M.M.111’ rootstock; Slender Pyramid (SP) on ‘M.26’ and ‘Geneva® 30’ (‘G.30’); Vertical Axis (VA) on ‘M.9 (Nic® 29)’ (‘M.9’), ‘Budagovsky 9’ (‘B.9’), and ‘G.16’; SolAxe (SA) on ‘M.9’, ‘B.9’, and ‘G.16’; and Tall Spindle (TS) on ‘M.9’, ‘B.9’, and ‘G.16’. CL was planted at 539 trees/ha, SP at 1097 trees/ha, VA and SA at 1794 trees/ha, and TS at 3230 trees/ha. The aim of this study was to evaluate the economic profitability of ‘Honeycrisp’ and ‘McIntosh’ at a wide range of planting densities, training systems, and rootstocks for cold areas such as northern New York state. A secondary goal was to assess the effect of various economic factors on the net present value (NPV) of each combination of training system, rootstock, and density. High NPV was achieved with ‘Honeycrisp’ (≈$450,000/ha), whereas NPV was significantly lower with ‘McIntosh’ (≈$80,000/ha). Within ≈5 years, ‘Honeycrisp’ planted in a TS (3230 trees/ha) reached a positive NPV, whereas 9 years were needed when ‘Honeycrisp’ was planted in a CL system at 539 trees/ha. With ‘McIntosh’, break-even year to positive NPV (BYPNPV) was reached at 9 years for TS on ‘M.9’. Most of the other training system and rootstock combinations needed up to 11–13 years to show a positive NPV. The most important variables affecting orchard NPV in our trial were fruit price and yield. The best option for ‘Honeycrisp’ in northern New York State appears to be TS on either ‘B.9’ or ‘M.9’, whereas with ‘McIntosh’, the best option appears to be TS on ‘M.9’.

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Nicole L. Russo, Terence L. Robinson, Gennaro Fazio, and Herb S. Aldwinckle

In 2002, apple rootstock trials using three scion cultivars were established at Geneva, NY, to evaluate 64 apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) rootstocks for horticultural performance and fire blight resistance. Field trials compared several elite Geneva® apple rootstocks, which were bred for tolerance to fire blight and Phytophthora root rot, to both commercial standards and elite rootstock clones from around the world. Three rootstocks performed well with all scion cultivars: ‘B.9’, ‘Geneva® 935’, and ‘Geneva® 41’. All three rootstocks were similar in size to ‘M.9’ clones but with elevated yield efficiency and superior resistance to fire blight. ‘Geneva® 11’ also performed very well with ‘Golden Delicious’ and ‘Honeycrisp’ with regard to yield efficiency and disease resistance. Resistant rootstocks greatly enhanced the survival of young trees, particularly with the susceptible scion cultivars ‘Gala’ and ‘Honeycrisp’. Results demonstrate the ability of new rootstock clones to perform better than current commercial standards, reducing financial risk to producers while promoting orchard health with enhanced disease resistance.

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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.

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Ian A. Merwin, Terence L. Robinson, Steven A. Hoying, and Rachel R. Byard

We are evaluating the severity of apple replant disease (ARD)-characterized by stunted tree growth in replanted orchards, attributed to root pathogens and/or edaphic conditions-and testing preplant soil treatments for control of this wide-spread problem. Soil samples were collected during 1996–98 at 17 orchards in New York's major fruit growing regions and plant-parasitic nematodes and nutrient availability were quantified. Apple seedlings and potted trees on M.9 rootstocks were grown in fumigated and non-fumigated soil samples as a diagnostic bioassay for ARD severity. Factorial combinations of metam sodium, consecutive cover crops of Brassica juncea `Forge' and Sorghum sudanense `Trudan 8', and fertilizer/lime amendments were applied as preplant treatments at each orchard, 9 to 12 months before trees were replanted. Diagnostic bioassays indicated severe ARD at more than half the sites, and nematodes were not a major factor. Responses to preplant soil treatments were highly variable across the 17 farms. The best tree growth and yields followed preplant metam sodium at some sites, Brassica juncea and Sorghum sudanense at others, or fertilizer amendments at a few others. Tree responses to combined preplant soil treatments were often additive, and greater at irrigated sites. Comparisons of preplant diagnostic bioassay results with subsequent tree responses to metam sodium at the 17 orchards indicated that diagnostic tests predicted from 7% to 75% of tree growth response to soil fumigation, varying substantially across years and sites. It appeared that ARD was variable and site specific in New York orchards, and could not be controlled effectively with a uniform preplant soil treatment across our major fruit-growing regions.

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Thomas E. Clark, Terence L. Robinson, Alan N. Lakso, and Warren C. Stiles

In 1996, benzyladenine, or GA4+7, or different ratios of BA: GA4+7 (100:1, 10:1 and 1:1) were applied to 10-year-old `Empire' apple trees on M.9 at 10-mm fruit size and 19-year-old `Redchief Delicious' apple trees on M.9 or M.9/MM.111 at 7.6-mm fruit size. Each chemical or combination of BA and GA was applied at three rates (50, 100, or 150 ppm) and at 75 ppm with 1.25 ml of carbaryl/L. At harvest, fruits were sampled from each treatment to determine fruit shape, firmness, color, total cell number, average cell size, and percentage of intercellular space. The positive rate response on fruit size and negative rate response on crop load of `Empire' became less significant for each formulation as the amount of GA4+7 in the formulation increased. The same was true for `Delicious', but less pronounced. At low rates of BA, formulations containing GA resulted in more thinning than BA alone. However, at higher rates of BA, formulations containing GA caused significantly less thinning than BA alone. For treatments combined with carbaryl, crop load increased linearly in `Empire' with increasing amounts of GA4+7 in the formulation. The treatment that provided the largest fruit size for `Empire' was BA@150 ppm, while for `Delicious' it was BA@75 ppm + carbaryl. Both varieties showed the greatest reduction in crop load with the 100:1@75 ppm+ carbaryl treatment when compared to the controls. These data suggest that GA4+7 in formulation with BA may inhibit the thinning action of BA at moderate and high rates.

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Terence L. Robinson, William F. Millier, James A. Throop, Stephen G. Carpenter, and Alan N. Lakso

Mature `Empire' and `Redchief Delicious' apple trees (Malus domestica Borkh.) trained to a Y-shaped trellis (Y/M.26) or trained as pyramid-shaped central leaders (CL/M.7) were mechanically harvested with the Cornell trunk recoil-impact shaker during 4 years. With `Empire', fruit removal from the Y/M.26 trees (85% to 90%) was significantly less than from the CL/M.7 trees (95% to 97%). With `Delicious' there were no differences in fruit removal (90% to 95%) between the two tree forms in any year. When the catching pad was on the ground, fruit grade based on damage was only slightly better for the Y/M.26 trees than for the CL/M.7 trees. When the catching pad was raised up near the Y/M.26 canopy, fruit grade was significantly improved for the Y/M.26 trees and was better than the CL/M.7 trees. Fruit grade for both cultivars ranged from 83% to 94% Extra Fancy with 5% to 16% culls for the Y/M.26 trees and from 74% to 88% Extra Fancy and 11% to 21% culls for the CL/M.7 trees. Skin punctures, skin breaks, and number of large and small bruises were lower and the percentage of nondamaged fruit was higher with the Y/M.26 trees when the pads were close to the canopy than when the pads were on the ground. The CL/M.7 trees had higher levels of all types of fruit damage than did the Y/M.26 trees. Damaged fruit from the CL/M.7 trees was mainly from the top half of the tree, while fruit from lower-tier scaffold branches had low levels of damage. Mechanically harvested fruit from the Y/M.26 trees had lower incidences of fruit rot and flesh breakdown after a 6-month storage period than did fruit from the CL/M.7 trees. Stem pulling was high with both systems and averaged 60% for `Delicious' and 30% for `Empire'. The advantage of the single plane Y-trellis system for mechanical harvesting appears to be that the catching pads can be placed close to the fruit, thereby reducing fruit damage.