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Arlie A. Powell, James Pitts, and Bobby Boozer

Early flowering of peach in the Southeast can result in annual crop loss as a result of late winter—early spring freezes. It has been shown in peach and other Prunus that a fall application of ethephon delays flowering several days. However, delayed harvest and smaller fruit size of certain varieties may occur. Hydrogen cyanamide replaces lack of chilling in peach but can also advance harvest date and possibly enhance or maintain fruit size. A randomized complete-block experimental design using 12-year-old `Redhaven' trees was used to evaluate whether hydrogen cyanamide could offset the delayed harvest and smaller fruit size disadvantages of using ethephon without advancing bloom dates. Treatment combinations of ethephon (at 20%, 50%, and 90% of required chilling) and hydrogen cyanamide (at 90% to 100% of required chilling) were applied as whole-tree foliar sprays to near point of drip. Although nonsignificant, there were trends toward hydrogen cyanamide overcoming both smaller fruit size and delayed harvest induced by ethephon.

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Bob Ebel, Bobby Boozer, and Jim Pitts

This experiment was conducted to determine peach harvest delay, quality, and storage life by ReTain. ReTain was applied to `Loring' at 50 ppm at 17, 14, 12, 10, or 7 days before harvest (n = 4). Fruit were harvested based on conversion of ground color to yellow over five dates at 3- to 4-day intervals in July. Fruit were segregated into five size classes, counted, and weighed. Ten fruit were randomly selected from the 2.5-in. size class, and fruit quality was measured at harvest and after 5 days at 20 °C. Some fruit were stored for 5 days at 4 °C, removed from storage, and fruit quality measured 4 h after removal. Harvest date was not affected by ReTain. Firmness was higher for fruit held at 5 days in cold storage with earlier treatment application but not at harvest or after 5 days at room temperature, although the trend at harvest was similar to the 5-day storage data. Soluble solids were not affected at harvest, after storage or after 5 days at room temperature. Red blush was slightly less at harvest and after 5 days in cold storage with earlier application rates, but differences disappeared after 5 days at room temperature. Yellow color was higher with earlier application date after 5 days of cold storage but not at harvest or after 5 days at room temperature. These results indicate that ReTain may have some utility for improving peach firmness at harvest, but there was no benefit of harvest delay at the rates applied in this study.

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Arlie A. Powell, James Pitts, and Bobby Boozer

Early flowering of peach in the southeastern United States can result in annual crop loss as a result of late winter-early spring freezes. In peach and other prunus, a fall application of ethephon delays flowering several days; however, delayed harvest and smaller fruit size of certain varieties may occur. Hydrogen cyanamide replaces the late stage of chilling in peach but can also advance bloom and harvest date while maintaing or enhancing fruit size. A randomized complete-block experimental design using 13-year old `Surecrop' trees was used to evaluate whether hydrogen cyanamide could offset the delayed harvest and smaller fruit size disadvantages of using ethephon without advancing bloom dates. Treatment combinations of ethephon (at 20%, 50%, and 90% of required chilling) and hydrogen cyanamide (at 90% to 100% of required chilling) were applied as whole-tree foliar sprays to near point of drip. Although not significant, there were trends toward hydrogen cyanamide overcoming both smaller fruit size and delayed harvest induced by ethephon. This agrees with an earlier study using `Redhaven'. Dormex negated the late flowering effects of ethephon applied at 20% chilling but did not cause flowering earlier than the control.

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Robert C. Ebel, Arnold Caylor, Jim Pitts, and Bobby Boozer

Ethrel [(2-chloroethyl)phosphonic acid] was applied at 0, 100 or 200 ppm (mg·L-1) for 3 years to the early maturing `Empress' peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] to determine if bloom delay by Ethrel reduces fruit weight at harvest. Trees were hand thinned at 0 or 3 weeks after full bloom to equalize cropload across Ethrel treatments and to determine if any reduction in fruit weight by Ethrel can be compensated by harvest with earlier thinning. Ethrel at 200 ppm (mg·L-1) delayed bloom by 3, 0, and 7 days in 1994, 1996 and 1997, respectively. Despite bloom delay, Ethrel did not delay harvest or reduce fruit weight. Thus, earlier hand thinning was not necessary. Ethrel did not affect blossom density and was not phytotoxic to vegetative or reproductive organs. These results indicate that even with the shorter fruit growth period of early maturing peach cultivars such as `Empress', there is sufficient time for fruit growth to recover on Ethrel treated trees so that fruit weight at harvest is not reduced.