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- Author or Editor: A. Harrison Wright x
From 2003 to 2006, the blossom level and crop load of ‘Honeycrisp’ apple (Malus × domestica Borkh.) trees on M.26 rootstocks were adjusted to improve fruit quality and return bloom. The treatments consisted of manually removing flower clusters to 50, 100, and 150 per tree, then at ≈50 d after full bloom, the crop load was adjusted to 3, 6, and 9 fruit/cm2 trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA), respectively. All flower and crop load adjustment significantly increased TCSA and canopy volume compared with the control. Classic biennial bearing was observed on the untreated control trees and those thinned to 150 blossom clusters per tree and 9 fruit/cm2 TCSA and was mitigated for trees with 50 and 100 blossom clusters followed by crop load adjustment to 3 and 6 fruit/cm2 TCSA, respectively. Fruit color the “on” year was always lower on the control trees; no difference was found in the “off” year. The treatments increased fruit weight proportional to crop load except for the 2004 “off” year. This study illustrates that for trees with ≈1 m3 canopy volume, the combined effects of blossom and crop load adjustment to 100 blossom clusters/tree followed by fruitlet adjustment to 6 fruit/cm2 TCSA and below will induce consistent annual production for ‘Honeycrisp’.