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  • Author or Editor: R.C. Ebel x
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The surfactant “Surfactant WK” (dodecyl ether of polyethylene glycol) was applied to peach trees [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] at full bloom over 3 years. Blossoms died rapidly so that within 2 days dead blossoms could be distinguished easily from live blossoms or set fruit. There were strong (R 2 > 0.87), linear correlations between concentration of “Surfactant WK” applied and percent blossoms removed and fruit set, which were similar over the 3 years. Trees were hand-thinned according to commercial practices after treatment. There was similar cropload, fruit weight, and yield across treatments at harvest indicating no negative effects by the chemical on productivity. There was only slight limb damage at the highest concentrations of “Surfactant WK,” which overthinned blossoms. We recommend that based on the effectiveness, consistency, and lack of significant phytotoxicity, “Surfactant WK” be reevaluated as a thinning chemical for peach trees.

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Strawberry fruit (Fragaria ×ananassa `Chandler') were evaluated at five different stages of growth and development for changes in the senescence process in fruit tissues. Levels of total antioxidant activity, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), lipid peroxidation product, malondialdehyde, and ethylene production were determined. Total antioxidant activity (TAA) was measured in terms of in situ antioxidants to scavenge the ABTS.superscript +superscript radical cation. With the progression of ripening and senescence, there was a significant decline in TAA that coincided with increased concentration of H2O2, lipid peroxidation and increased production of ethylene. Our results illustrate that the senescence process in strawberry fruit is associated with the decline of TAA and the potential initiation and accumulation of reactive oxygen species. These results are additionally discussed in terms of potential processes associated with abiotic and biotic environmental stresses. Moreover, although strawberry fruit are typically classified as nonclimacteric, this study illustrates that the free radical mediated senescence process is similar to that of climacteric fruits.

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This study was conducted to determine efficacy of Tergitol TMN-6 in thinning peach blossoms. A pretest was conducted and demonstrated no difference between TMN-6 and TMN-10 in efficacy when applied at full bloom or petal fall and at rates of 20 and 40 mL·L-1. In the main test, Tergitol TMN-6 was sprayed once at 10, 20, or 30 mL·L-1 at full bloom or petal fall and compared to an unsprayed control for 3 years. Tergitol caused widespread necrosis of flower parts including sepals, petals, pistils, stamens and peduncles. There was a difference among chemical treatments with more fruit removed at higher concentrations, although the amount of fruit removed was similar for the 20 and 30 mL·L-1 rates. There was no difference in thinning response at full bloom or petal fall, indicating a wide window of efficacy. There was also a difference among years, which was apparently not related to temperature or relative humidity during time of application. Tergitol caused some leaf yellowing and tip burn especially at the higher rates when leaves were present, but the trees did not appear to be seriously affected. Fruit weight was either not affected or larger in some years from treatment. Unlike higher concentrations, tergitol at 10 mL·L-1 did not negatively impact fruit number per tree at harvest. At harvest, fruit weight, skin blush, firmness, and soluble solids at harvest were not affected by treatment. Tergitol TMN-6 proved to be an effective thinning agent and when applied from full bloom to petal fall at 10 mL·L-1 it did not adversely affect the tree or fruit.

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Several microsprinkler treatments were tested on 5-year-old satsuma mandarin orange (Citrus unshiu Marc.) trees to compare survivability of trunks and scaffold limbs in severe freezes. Three damaging freeze events occurred during winter, with two in 1995–96 and one in 1996–97. Air temperature dropped to –9.4, –5.6, and –6.7 °C, respectively. Almost 90% of the foliage was dead on the control plants after the first freezing event and 98% after the second. A single microsprinkler 1.6 m high in the canopy delivering 90.8 L·h–1 reduced injury; only 54% of the canopy was dead after the first freeze and 71% after the second. There was slightly more shoot-tip dieback on the plants in the microsprinkler treatments than on the control plants after the first two freezes. The amount of limb breakage by ice was minor. The third freeze killed 34% of the canopy in the control plants, but only 26% in the plants in the microsprinkler treatments. Use of microsprinklers increased yield in 1996, but yield for all treatments was very low. Yield for all treatments fully recovered in 1997, averaging 153 kg/tree. Although no death of scaffold limbs or trunks occurred, these results demonstrate that microsprinkler irrigation reduces damage to foliage and increases yield somewhat in severe freezes.

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This study was conducted to determine fruit quality of Satsuma mandarin Citrus unshiu, Marc. `Owari' grown on the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Soluble solids increased linearly and titratable acidity decreased quadratically during October and November for the four sampling years. There was no significant interaction between sampling date and year. There was a significant year effect for titratable acidity, but not soluble solids or their ratio. A 10:1 soluble solids to titratable acidity ratio was observed on 10 Nov. Variation in fruit weight corresponded with cropload. Fruit weight increased during the sampling period due to an increase in fruit length since there was no change in width. Peel color was yellow-orange by 10 Nov., with many fruit still exhibiting patches of green color. Because of some green color present in the peel, the fruit would have to be degreened for successful marketing in U.S. retail chain stores.

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There are a limited number of peach and nectarine cultivars available with chilling requirements that perform well in the Gulf Coast area of Alabama. A test planting of 40 peach and 13 nectarine cultivars was established in 1985 at the Gulf Coast Substation at Fairhope, Ala. The plot was prepared and trees grown according to commercial procedures. Blocks of four trees of each cultivar were planted on a 6 x 6-m spacing. Chill hours were calculated each year based on number of hours at or below 7.3 °C; starting from and including the first 10 consecutive days a total of 50 hours were accumulated to 15 Feb. Data collected included date of full bloom, first harvest date, and total yield. Fruit were measured or rated for skin color, attractiveness, firmness, stone freeness, pubescence, flesh color, dessert quality, shape, weight, percentage with split pits, and occurrence of malformed sutures and extended tips. All cultivars were evaluated for 9 years (1987–95). The best performing varieties are discussed.

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A prevailing hypothesis indicates that a decrease in vegetative growth and cessation in floral initiation in strawberry in response to changes in photoperiod and temperature may correlate with hormonally induced changes. We investigated changes in endogenous free polyamines in crowns, flowers, leaves, and fruit of springbearing strawberries (Fragaria xananassa cvs. Chandler and Earliglow) in response to varying temperatures to induce flowering. Spermidine was the prominent free amine in crowns. No marked changes of putrescine, spermidine, and spermine were observed in crowns during the transition from vegetative to reproductive growth in either cultivar. In contrast, high levels of free polyamines were noted in young developing tissues such as the most recently initiated leaves, flower buds, and green fruit. When the putrescine synthesis inhibitor difluoromethylonithine (DFMO, 1 mm) was exogenously applied, levels of putrescine, spermidine, and spermine were altered in crown tissues in greenhouse experiments. These findings indicate that free polyamines may potentially be associated with the stimulation of new growth in springbearing strawberries under the present experimental conditions evaluated.

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The current study was conducted to relate ice formation to the pattern and rate of leaf and stem injury of Satsuma mandarins on trifoliate orange rootstock. Potted trees were unacclimated, moderately acclimated or fully acclimated by exposing trees to 32/21 °C, 15/7 °C or 10/4 °C, respectively. Freezing treatments consisted of decreasing air temperature at 2 °C·h-1 until ice formed as evidenced by exotherms determined using differential thermal analysis of stems. Air temperature was then decreased, held constant, or increased and held constant to simulate severe, moderate and mild freeze conditions, respectively. All treatment exhibited exotherms at -2 to -4 °C, which were smaller with milder freezing treatments. Only the fully acclimated trees exhibited multiple exotherms. Leaf watersoaking, an indication of ice formation, occurred concurrently with stem exotherms except for fully acclimated trees where there was up to a 30-min delay and which corresponded with the second exotherm. Electrolyte leakage of leaves began to increase near the peak of the stem exotherm, but increased more slowly with milder freezing temperature treatments. In some treatments, electrolyte leakage reached a plateau near 50% but leaves survived. Leaves died when whole-leaf electrolyte leakage exceeded 50%. These data are discussed within the framework of a proposed mechanism of injury of Satsuma mandarin leaves by subfreezing temperatures, especially multiple exotherms of fully acclimated trees, and the plateau of electrolyte leakage of leaves at the critical level for survival.

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Twelve peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] seedling rootstocks [Lovell, Nemaguard, Flordaguard, 14DR51, five Guardian™ (BY520-9) selections, and three BY520-8 selections] budded with `Cresthaven' were planted in 1994 and evaluated through 2000 to determine performance under commercial management practices. Mesocriconema xenoplax population densities were above the South Carolina nematicide treatment threshold of 50 nematodes/100 cm3 of soil after 1996. However, symptoms of peach tree short life (PTSL) were not observed. Tree mortality was less than 14% through 1999, with most of the dead trees exhibiting symptoms consistent with Armillaria root rot. About 13% of the surviving trees in 1999 were removed in 2000 due to symptoms of phony peach. There were no differences in tree mortality among rootstocks. Tree growth, photosynthesis, and suckering varied among rootstocks, but leaf conductance, internal CO2, and leaf transpiration did not. Foliar calcium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus varied among rootstocks, but all were within the range considered sufficient for peach trees. Fruit yield varied among rootstocks, but yield efficiency did not, indicating that higher yield corresponded with larger trees. Bloom date did not vary among rootstocks, but harvest date was advanced as much as 2 days for some rootstocks, compared to Lovell. Fruit weight varied among rootstocks but skin color, flesh firmness, and soluble solids content were similar. All rootstocks performed satisfactorily for commercial peach production.

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Effects of Tergitol-TMN-6 surfactant on blossom thinning (fruit set), fruit quality, and yield were studied in different cultivars of peach (Prunus persica [L.] Batsch) during 2003 to 2005, and in one cultivar of nectarine Prunus persica [L.] in one orchard and one cultivar of plum (Prunus domestica [L.]) in two orchards in 2004. In addition to Tergitol-TMN-6, effects of Crocker's fish oil (CFO) alone in three peach cultivars or in combination with lime sulfur in a nectarine cultivar were studied on fruit set, quality, and yield. Tergitol-TMN-6 at 5 mL·L–1 or higher rates, applied at about 75% to 85% bloom, reduced fruit set without russeting peach fruit. Peach fruit size was often increased by Tergitol-TMN-6 treatment. Applications of Tergitol at 20 mL·L–1 or 30 mL·L–1 excessively thinned peaches. Tergitol-TMN-6 at all rates burned foliage, but the symptoms disappeared after a few weeks without any adverse effects on tree productivity. Tergitol-TMN-6 at 7.5 mL·L–1 or 10 mL·L–1, applied either once at about 80% to 85% bloom or twice at 35% bloom and again at 80% to 85% bloom, reduced fruit set without any fruit russeting in nectarine. Tergitol-TMN-6 at 7.5 mL·L–1 to 12.5 mL·L–1 reduced fruit set in `Empress' plum. CFO at 30 mL·L–1 was effective in blossom thinning of some peach cultivars. A combination of lime sulfur and CFO was not effective in blossom thinning of nectarine. Considering results from several orchards in different locations in the Pacific Northwest over 3 years, Tergitol-TMN-6 is an excellent blossom thinner for peach, nectarine, and plum at rates of 7.5 to 12.5 mL·L–1, sprayed at a spray volume of 1870.8 L·ha–1 when about 75% to 85% blooms are open.

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