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A. Erez, Z. Yablowitz and R. Korcinski

Fresh fruits of stone fruit species are either lacking or in short supply in the months of March and April on the world market. This results from the absence of late-maturing cultivars in most of these species and from their poor storage capabilities. In March–April, supply from the Southern Hemisphere is dwindling or finished, while supply from the Northern Hemisphere has not started yet. A horticultural system was developed in Israel to get early fruit ripening of stonefruit species. The system developed is based on early completion of dormancy requirements followed by greenhouse tree growing. The system uses the following elements: 1) Improve chilling accumulation in winter by using evaporative cooling, to prevent chilling negation by high day temperatures. 2) Monitor salt accumulation level to prevent damage to branches and buds. 3) Monitor bud temperature and evaluate dormancy development according to the dynamic model. 4) Use dormancy breaking chemicals to compensate for part of the chilling not applied. 5) Cover of the trees with polyethylene having the appropriate characteristics of light filtering. 6) Keep the temperature in the greenhouse lower than the maximal temperature allowed, at every specific stage of development by ventilation. By using this system, fruit ripening was advanced by 4 to 6 weeks in peaches and nectarines (harvested from late March) and by 4 weeks in sweet cherries (harvested from April 11). Yields of 20 to 30 tons/ha were obtained in both species with high fruit quality.

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M. Faust, A. Erez, L.J. Rowland, S.Y. Wang and H.A. Norman