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  • Author or Editor: James T. Yeager x
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Heavy fruit set of apricot (Prunus armeniaca) cultivars grown in California often require hand thinning to insure that adequate fruit size is obtained. Alternatives to costly hand thinning would be welcome. GA treatments made during flower bud initiation/differentiation have been previously shown to inhibit the development of floral and vegetative buds in a number of different tree fruit species. The effects of post-harvest limb and whole tree aqueous gibberellic acid (GA) sprays on flower and fruit production were investigated over a 3 year period in `Patterson' apricot. Limb treatments indicated the potential for utilizing postharvest GA sprays to reduce the number of flowers produced in the following season. Harvest fruit size (June 1989) was increased by a 100 mg·liter-1 GA whole tree spray applied 7 July 1988 when compared to non-thinned and hand thinned trees. Yield per tree was reduced by that GA spray, but not enough to show statistical differences. No abnormal tree growth responses have been observed in GA-sprayed trees to date. These results and those from the 1989 and 1990 growing seasons will be presented in effort to identify a role for whole tree postharvest GA sprays in a chemical thinning program suitable for commercial apricots.

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Sweet cherries produce vigorous upright growth from Apr.-Sept. and are slow to bear in California. Our tree training objectives include earlier bearing, easier harvesting, high productivity of good quality fruit. `Bing' cherry on mazzard and mahaleb rootstock were planted in 7 blocks and trained 6 ways. One group was headed 12-18 inches above the bud union and 4 branches were retained at the 1st dormant pruning. Lateral buds were treated with promalin at bud-break to induce lateral shoot formation. Trees were spring-summer pruned to reduce terminal growth. At the second dormant pruning, strong shoots were removed and lateral shoots were treated with promalin to induce spur formation. Trees were treated likewise through the 3rd dormant season and produced a fair crop in the 4th season. Central leader trees were created by tying/weighting limbs, dormant and summer pruning, and retaining less vigorous limbs as well as utilizing promalin. Slow growing trees tended to bear fruit more rapidly. Both training methods yielded fruit in the 4th season while traditional pruning procedures produced few fruit. Data and procedures will be presented to document these practices.

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`Loadel' cling peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] trees were sprayed with Release® LC (Abbott Laboratories, North Chicago, Ill.) in 1993. Preharvest (harvested 16 July) sprays of 50, 75, 100, and 120 ppm applied on 15 June improved fruit firmness without altering fruit maturity (flesh color by commercial standards) in 1993. In the following 1994 season, flower number per centimeter of shoot length was reduced by sprays ranging from 50 to 120 ppm applied on 15 June and 9 July. No hand-thinning was required on trees treated on 15 June. Trees treated 9 July had 50% fewer fruit removed than on untreated trees, where more than 3000 fruit were removed by hand-thinning. Salable yield was higher than untreated control trees where Release® LC had been applied at 50 ppm on 15 June and 9 July. Fruit size equaled those of hand-thinned controls. As concentration increased on 15 June, salable yield decreased linearly. Fruit size (diameter and individual weight) increased with reductions in salable yield. Interestingly, fruit were evenly distributed along shoots after Release® LC treatment, similar to those found after hand-thinning. Release® LC will be available for commercial chemical thinning of stone fruit in California during 1995. Additional results from peach and other stone fruit will be presented.

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A replicated rootstock trial for almond was established in 1986 in the central San Joaquin Valley, a major almond growing area for this most widely planted tree crop in California. `Nonpareil', the major cultivar in California, was used for this trial with `Fritz' grown as the pollenizing cultivar. Two standard rootstocks for almond, `Nemaguard' and `Lovell' peach, were compared to two newer peach-almond hybrid rootstocks, `Bright's' and `Hansen'. After eight years both hybrid rootstocks produced significantly larger trees than the peach rootstocks, based on trunk cross-sectional area. Trees on hybrid rootstocks frequently produced greater yields than those on peach rootstocks; although, differences were not always significant. However, there were generally no significant differences in production per trunk cross-sectional area (yield efficiency). Thus, increased production by trees on hybrid rootstock was the result of larger tree size and not an inherent increase in productive efficiency of the tree itself. Since trees on hybrid rootstock should be planted further apart than those on peach, production per hectare should not be significantly increased, at least under good growing conditions as represented in this trial.

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`Gala', the third most widely planted apple cultivar in California, requires early and precise thinning to produce good fruit size. Thus, chemical thinning would be ideally suited for this cultivar. However, the normally prolonged bloom for apples in California makes timing of chemical thinning applications difficult. In 1995 and 1996 trials, several chemical thinning treatments provided significantly reduced fruit set on `Gala' compared to the untreated control. Three treatments showed promise for commercial use: 1) carbaryl, two applications at petal fall and again at 10-15 mm diameter of the king fruit; 2) carbaryl plus NAD at petal fall; and 3) carbaryl plus 6-benzyladenine and GA4+7 (Accel®), two applications at petal fall and at ≈10 mm diameter of the king fruit. These treatments generally gave reduced fruit set per 100 flower clusters, fruit set per fruiting cluster and/or numbers of fruit removed by follow-up hand-thinning. None of these treatments showed evidence of phytotoxicity, and some increased fruit size over the untreated control.

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Abstract

The effect of initial heading height on primary branch development in ‘Bing’ sweet cherry (Prunus avium) was examined in the first year of growth. Trees headed 51 cm above the soil surface resulted in fewer primary branches produced by 1-year-old trees than those headed at 75 cm and delay-headed at 142 cm, respectively. Branches on trees with lower heading height had narrow angles and longer branches than those on trees that were headed higher. Trees delay-headed at 142 cm produced the greatest number of primary branches with the widest crotch angles and shortest branch length. Branches were distributed along the entire length of the main leader in each treatment, but more branches with narrow angles and longer lengths were located 50 cm below the heading cut along the tree trunk. A significant linear relationship existed between branch angle and branch length in the 0- to 50-, 50- to 100-, and 100- to 142-cm sections along the tree trunk.

Open Access

Under California conditions `Granny Smith' apple does not “self-thin” sufficiently to promote good return bloom nor to provide fruit size desired for the fresh market. Preliminary studies conducted during 1985-87 indicated that 1-naphthyl N-methylcarbamate (carbaryl), 1-naphthaleneacetic Acid (NAA), and 1-naphthaleneacetamide (NAD) could be useful for thinning `Granny Smith'. Detailed studies conducted in 1988 and 89 using dilute handgun applications demonstrated that all 3 materials provided reasonable thinning as shown by fruit set counts. NAA and NAD tended to slow fruit growth as compared to carbaryl. Carbaryl tended to uniformly thin clusters while NAA and NAD were more likely to remove all the fruit from some clusters and few fruit from others, especially in 1988. Compared to the control, all materials applied in 1988 improved return bloom in 1989 with carbaryl having a slightly greater effect than NAA and NAD. As a result of these studies carbaryl at 1.7 to 2.2 kg (active ingredient) per ha as a dilute application is being suggested for grower trials in California.

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Under California conditions `Granny Smith' apple does not “self-thin” sufficiently to promote good return bloom nor to provide fruit size desired for the fresh market. Preliminary studies conducted during 1985-87 indicated that 1-naphthyl N-methylcarbamate (carbaryl), 1-naphthaleneacetic Acid (NAA), and 1-naphthaleneacetamide (NAD) could be useful for thinning `Granny Smith'. Detailed studies conducted in 1988 and 89 using dilute handgun applications demonstrated that all 3 materials provided reasonable thinning as shown by fruit set counts. NAA and NAD tended to slow fruit growth as compared to carbaryl. Carbaryl tended to uniformly thin clusters while NAA and NAD were more likely to remove all the fruit from some clusters and few fruit from others, especially in 1988. Compared to the control, all materials applied in 1988 improved return bloom in 1989 with carbaryl having a slightly greater effect than NAA and NAD. As a result of these studies carbaryl at 1.7 to 2.2 kg (active ingredient) per ha as a dilute application is being suggested for grower trials in California.

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