A series of experiments was undertaken to compare the performance of an axial fan air blast sprayer equipped with air induction (AI) or conventional (C) nozzles in medium density apple (Malus ×domestica) orchards. Performance was compared by assessing 1) spray coverage within the canopy at four levels of across-row wind speeds, 2) ground deposits from airborne drift under still conditions, and 3) biological efficacy of a postbloom thinning spray and a seasonal “high-risk” fungicide program where thiophanate methyl was not included. Spray coverage was reduced by up to 50% with increasing across-row wind speeds, the most dramatic reductions occurring between 0 and 4 mph and at heights greater than 8 ft in the canopy. AI nozzles resulted in a 2-fold increase in spray coverage in the canopy of trees in the row immediately adjacent to the sprayer compared with C nozzles regardless of across-row wind speed. AI nozzles resulted in significantly less airborne drift compared with C nozzles under still conditions in an open field and within a mature ‘Cripps Pink’/ ‘M.7’ orchard planted in rows 20 ft apart. Sprayer efficiency, measured as the proportion of total spray volume that was intercepted by the tree canopy, was higher for an airblast sprayer fitted with AI nozzles (38%) than for C nozzles (26%). The efficacy of a postbloom thinning spray (100 ppm benzyladenine plus carbaryl at 1 lb/100 gal) applied to ‘Morgan Spur Red Delicious’/‘M.111’ trees planted at a between-row spacing of 15 ft was slightly greater when applied with AI nozzles compared with C nozzles. However, application of a “high-risk” fungicide program with AI nozzles resulted in a higher incidence of fruit with flyspeck (Zygophiala jamaicensis) at harvest compared with C nozzles. These inconsistencies were related to the combined effects of nozzle type, orchard row spacing, and canopy density on spray deposition on trees in the second row from the sprayer or to possible effects of nozzle type on droplet density on the target. AI nozzles should provide equivalent or possibly improved coverage and biological efficacy compared with C nozzles in well-managed orchards planted at distances of 18 ft or less between rows. However, when orchard rows are spaced greater than 18 ft apart, AI nozzles will result in reduced spray coverage and chemical efficacy compared with C nozzles because of a reduction in spray carry-over to adjacent rows as a result of reduced airborne drift.
The variation in natural fruit drop of ‘Scarletspur Delicious’/‘M.7’ (M.7) apple (Malus ×domestica) trees in a commercial orchard over a period of 11 consecutive years was visualized using box and whisker plots. Delaying harvest until 1 week after the normal harvest date resulted in fruit drop ranging from 2% to 33% depending on the year. The effects of aminoethoxyvinlyglycine (AVG) and naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) on fruit drop and fruit firmness at normal and delayed harvests was monitored each year. AVG and NAA programs tended to mitigate fruit drop most effectively in years when natural fruit drop was heavy. AVG delayed the loss of fruit firmness, whereas a preload NAA program delayed firmness loss in fruit that were harvested 3 weeks after the normal harvest date only. A standard NAA program for drop control did not accelerate softening of ‘Scarletspur Delicious’ during the first 3 weeks after the normal harvest date. Growers should closely monitor fruit maturity and stem loosening during the harvest window each year to minimize the risk of major losses due to fruit drop. When timely harvest is not possible, perhaps due to unforeseen weather events or constraints in labor availability, or poor management, then use of harvest management aids such as AVG or NAA becomes critical on cultivars prone to fruit drop.