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B.S. Wilkins, R.C. Ebel, W.A. Dozier, J. Pitts and R. Boozer

This study was conducted to determine efficacy of Tergitol TMN-6 in thinning peach blossoms. A pretest was conducted and demonstrated no difference between TMN-6 and TMN-10 in efficacy when applied at full bloom or petal fall and at rates of 20 and 40 mL·L-1. In the main test, Tergitol TMN-6 was sprayed once at 10, 20, or 30 mL·L-1 at full bloom or petal fall and compared to an unsprayed control for 3 years. Tergitol caused widespread necrosis of flower parts including sepals, petals, pistils, stamens and peduncles. There was a difference among chemical treatments with more fruit removed at higher concentrations, although the amount of fruit removed was similar for the 20 and 30 mL·L-1 rates. There was no difference in thinning response at full bloom or petal fall, indicating a wide window of efficacy. There was also a difference among years, which was apparently not related to temperature or relative humidity during time of application. Tergitol caused some leaf yellowing and tip burn especially at the higher rates when leaves were present, but the trees did not appear to be seriously affected. Fruit weight was either not affected or larger in some years from treatment. Unlike higher concentrations, tergitol at 10 mL·L-1 did not negatively impact fruit number per tree at harvest. At harvest, fruit weight, skin blush, firmness, and soluble solids at harvest were not affected by treatment. Tergitol TMN-6 proved to be an effective thinning agent and when applied from full bloom to petal fall at 10 mL·L-1 it did not adversely affect the tree or fruit.

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R.C. Ebel, W.A. Dozier, B. Hockema, F.M. Woods, R. Thomas, B.S. Wilkins, M. Nesbitt and R. McDaniel

This study was conducted to determine fruit quality of Satsuma mandarin Citrus unshiu, Marc. `Owari' grown on the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Soluble solids increased linearly and titratable acidity decreased quadratically during October and November for the four sampling years. There was no significant interaction between sampling date and year. There was a significant year effect for titratable acidity, but not soluble solids or their ratio. A 10:1 soluble solids to titratable acidity ratio was observed on 10 Nov. Variation in fruit weight corresponded with cropload. Fruit weight increased during the sampling period due to an increase in fruit length since there was no change in width. Peel color was yellow-orange by 10 Nov., with many fruit still exhibiting patches of green color. Because of some green color present in the peel, the fruit would have to be degreened for successful marketing in U.S. retail chain stores.

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R.C. Ebel, B.L. Campbell, M.L. Nesbitt, W.A. Dozier, J.K. Lindsey and B.S. Wilkins

Estimates of long-term freeze-risk aid decisions regarding crop, cultivar, and rootstock selection, cultural management practices that promote cold hardiness, and methods of freeze protection. Citrus cold hardiness is mostly a function of air temperature, but historical weather records typically contain only daily maximum (Tmax) and minimum (Tmin) air temperatures. A mathematical model was developed that used Tmax and Tmin to estimate air temperature every hour during the diurnal cycle; a cold-hardiness index (CHI500) was calculated by summing the hours ≤10°C for the 500 h before each day; and the CHI500 was regressed against critical temperatures (Tc) that cause injury. The CHI500 was calculated from a weather station located within 0.1 km of an experimental grove and in the middle of the satsuma mandarin (Citrus unshiu Marc.) industry in southern Alabama. Calculation of CHI500 was verified by regressing a predicted CHI500 using Tmax and Tmin, to a measured CHI500 calculated using air temperatures measured every hour for 4 winter seasons (1999-2003). Predicted CHI500 was linearly related to measured CHI500 (r 2 = 0.982). However, the slope was a little low such that trees with a CHI500 = 400, near the maximum cold-hardiness level achieved in this study, had predicted Tc that was 0.5 °C lower than measured Tc. Predicted and measured Tc were similar for nonhardened trees (CHI500 = 0). The ability of predicted Tc to estimate freeze injury was determined in 18 winter seasons where freeze injury was recorded. During injurious freeze events, predicted Tc was higher than Tmin except for a freeze on 8 Mar. 1996. In some freezes where the difference in Tc and Tmin was <0.5 °C there were no visible injury symptoms. Injury by the freeze on 8 Mar. 1996 was due, in part, to abnormally rapid deacclimation because of defoliation by an earlier freeze on 4-6 Feb. the same year. A freeze rating scale was developed that related the difference in Tc and Tmin to the extent of injury. Severe freezes were characterized by tree death (Tc - Tmin > 3.0 °C), moderate freezes by foliage kill and some stem dieback (1.0 °C ≤ Tc - Tmin ≤ 3.0 °C), and slight freezes by slight to no visible leaf injury (Tc - Tmin < 1.0 °C). The model was applied to Tmax and Tmin recorded daily from 1948 through 2004 to estimate long-term freeze-risk for economically damaging freezes (severe and moderate freeze ratings). Economically damaging freezes occurred 1 out of 4 years in the 56-year study, although 8 of the 14 freeze years occurred in two clusters, the first 5 years in the 1960s and 1980s. Potential modification of freeze-risk using within-tree microsprinkler irrigation and more cold-hardy cultivars was discussed.

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B.S. Wilkins, R.C. Ebel, W.A. Dozier, J. Pitts, D.J. Eakes, D.G. Himelrick, T. Beckman and A.P. Nyczepir

Twelve peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] seedling rootstocks [Lovell, Nemaguard, Flordaguard, 14DR51, five Guardian™ (BY520-9) selections, and three BY520-8 selections] budded with `Cresthaven' were planted in 1994 and evaluated through 2000 to determine performance under commercial management practices. Mesocriconema xenoplax population densities were above the South Carolina nematicide treatment threshold of 50 nematodes/100 cm3 of soil after 1996. However, symptoms of peach tree short life (PTSL) were not observed. Tree mortality was less than 14% through 1999, with most of the dead trees exhibiting symptoms consistent with Armillaria root rot. About 13% of the surviving trees in 1999 were removed in 2000 due to symptoms of phony peach. There were no differences in tree mortality among rootstocks. Tree growth, photosynthesis, and suckering varied among rootstocks, but leaf conductance, internal CO2, and leaf transpiration did not. Foliar calcium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus varied among rootstocks, but all were within the range considered sufficient for peach trees. Fruit yield varied among rootstocks, but yield efficiency did not, indicating that higher yield corresponded with larger trees. Bloom date did not vary among rootstocks, but harvest date was advanced as much as 2 days for some rootstocks, compared to Lovell. Fruit weight varied among rootstocks but skin color, flesh firmness, and soluble solids content were similar. All rootstocks performed satisfactorily for commercial peach production.