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Matthew K. Rogoyski and A. Richard Renquist

A decision support system has been developed to help Colorado fruit growers with apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) thinning. This system can also be used as a teaching aid and as a tool for generating research hypotheses. The system determines if fruit thinning is needed by identifying catastrophic events that would eliminate the need for thinning. The major function of this decision support system is determination of tree responsiveness to chemical thinning agents. This is accomplished through analysis of the user's answers to questions related to the physiological status of the trees, environmental data, bearing history, and the apple variety in question. On the basis of the above analysis, two sets of recommendations are presented: general recommendations based on the variety selected, and specific ones for that variety based on growth stage and tree responsiveness to thinners. The user also is provided with the rationale for the recommendations.

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A. Richard Renquist, Horst W. Caspari and David J. Chalmers

Nashi pear (Pyrus serotina Rehder, cv. Hosui) trees were planted in 12 computerized 1m-wide drainage lysimeters in September 1987. During the 1990 season tree water use was monitored via lysimeter and neutron probe readings. Diurnal leaf water relations were studied using a pressure chamber for water potential (ψ) and a porometer for leaf conductance (gs). Xylem sap trunk flow velocities were measured with an experimental heat pulse device and converted to xylem flux. Close agreement existed between 24 hr xylem flux and lysimeter water use when comparing trees with different soil water content. Xylem flux also was very sensitive to changes in evaporative demand. During 9–13 day drying cycles pre-dawn ψ became progressively lower, morning decline more rapid, and afternoon recovery slower. The diurnal gs pattern also shifted during drying cycles, such that gs of water stressed trees always decreased from time of first measurement of sunlit leaves rather than increasing during the morning as on non-stressed trees. Late afternoon was the best time to distinguish between fully irrigated and stressed trees using gs measurements.

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A. Richard Renquist, Jacinda M. English and Jeff B. Reid

The pH of processing tomato at harvest is a key quality criterion and is critical for safe product storage. Maximum allowable fruit homogenate pH is often 4.5. Our objective was to quantify the influence of air temperature on pH, including any interaction with either fruit age or use of ethephon. Three planting dates were imposed as main treatments and ethephon as a subtreatment in a field trial, and each planting was harvested on four dates. Fruits were harvested from trusses tagged to identify three fruit age groups in sub-subplots. Temperature exerted primary control of tomato pH. The relationship of bulk fruit pH to thermal time was curvilinear (pH was always <4.55); however, when pH was related to thermal time from anthesis, a linear relationship resulted. The oldest fruit had a much higher pH (>4.5) than younger ones (mean pH for all dates = 4.3). Ethephon did not alter these temperature/pH relationships.

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A. Richard Renquist, Horst W. Caspari, M. Hossein Behboudian and David J. Chalmers

Stomatal conductance (g s) of `Hosui' Asian pear (Pyrus serotina Rehder) trees growing in lysimeters was characterized for trees in well-watered soil and after brief water deficit. The measures of water status used to interpret g s data were soil-water content, leaf water potential (ψl), and instantaneous water use (trunk sap flow by the compensation heat-pulse technique). The diurnal course and range of g s values of well-irrigated Asian pear trees were similar to those reported for other tree fruit crops. Soil moisture at the end of a midsummer deficit period was 60% of lysimeter pot capacity, and diurnal ψl reflected this deficit predawn and in the late afternoon compared to well-irrigated trees. The g s was sensitive to deficit irrigation during more of the day than ψl, with g s values <3 mm·s-1 for most of the day; these were less than half the conductances of well-irrigated trees. The reduction of g s in response to a given soil-water deficit was not as great on days with lower evaporative demand. After a water deficit, g s recovered to predeficit values only gradually over 2 to 3 days. The low g s of trees in dry soil was the apparent cause of reduced transpiration, measured by trunk sap flow, and reduced responsiveness of sap flow to fluctuations in net radiation.

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Horst W. Caspari, M. Hossein Behhoudian, David J. Chalmers and A. Richard Renquist

Seasonal water use data are presented for 4-year-old Pyrus serotina Rehder cv. Hosui growing in drainage lysimeters and trained onto a Tatura trellis. Weekly water use (WU) was calculated using the mass balance approach. For 8 consecutive weeks during late summer, instantaneous WU was also measured by the compensation heat-pulse technique for measuring sap flow. Although good agreement was found between the two methods for 4 weeks after probe installation, discrepancies increased after this time. Water use was highest in early to mid-January in New Zealand, averaging ≈8 liters/tree per day, or 2 liters·m-2 canopy surface area/day. Total water use over the growing season was 1070 liters/tree, or 245 liters·m-2 canopy surface area. The correlation coefficient between weekly WU and evaporation from a nearby Class A pan was 0.81 for the season. Weekly crop coefficients thus calculated for the well-watered trees ranged from 0.15 to 0.55 and 0.20 to 0.83 when calculated using canopy surface area and projected ground area, respectively. Low values were due to low values of canopy leaf area early in the season. Withholding irrigation during three periods resulted in a gradual decline in water use. Water-stressed trees had a lower predawn water potential than fully irrigated trees. This pattern was followed by a more-rapid decline during the morning, and a slower recovery during late afternoon and early evening. Midday leaf water potential never fell below -2.5 MPa.