Removal of bud scales hastened bud burst of several early and late blooming apple cultivars. Descaling was most effective during the onset and end of rest. During deep rest, bud scale removal was effective only when applied 2 weeks before forcing conditions. Extracts of bud scales inhibited apple bud break in vitro. Abscisic acid (ABA) may have been responsible for part or all of this bioactivity, since ABA occurred in bud scale diffusates and could replace or reinforce the bud scales in vitro. Wound-produced ethylene was not involved in the bud scale removal response.