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Richard E.C. Layne, Chin S. Tan, and David M. Hunter

Three cultivars (`Garnet Beauty', `Harbrite', `Canadian Harmony'), two ground covers (temporary cover vs. permanent sod), and no irrigation vs. season-long trickle irrigation were studied in a high-density (633 trees/ha) peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] orchard established on Fox sand in 1980. From 1985 to 1989, soil water content in the top 130 cm was similar in nonirrigated and trickle-irrigated plots except during the growing season (May to September). Total soil water was lowest in nonirrigated plots that had permanent sod strips in the row middles and fell below the-permanent wilting point for ≥11 months in summer but not at depths below 130 cm. Trunk cross-sectional area (TCA) was greater for `Canadian Harmony' and `Harbrite' than `Garnet Beauty', ground-cover treatments had no effect, and irrigated trees were generally larger than those not irrigated. Photosynthetic rate and stomatal conductance differed by cultivar, were unaffected by ground cover, and were enhanced by irrigation. Defoliation differed by cultivar, ground cover had little effect, and irrigation usually delayed defoliation. Flower bud and shoot xylem hardiness differed by cultivar but not by ground cover and were generally enhanced by irrigation. Tree survival was significantly affected by cultivar, being best with `Harbrite' and `Canadian Harmony' and poorest with `Garnet Beauty'. Permanent sod enhanced tree survival while trickle irrigation reduced it. Cumulative marketable yields were affected more by cultivar than by ground cover or irrigation. `Canadian Harmony' had the highest yield, followed by `Harbrite', then `Garnet Beauty'. Yields in sod were slightly higher than in temporary cover and yields with trickle irrigation were slightly higher than without irrigation. The best soil-management system when TCA, marketable yield, and tree survival were considered was a combination of permanent creeping red fescue sod strips in the row middles and trickle irrigation in the tree row. This system is being recommended to commercial growers in southwestern Ontario.

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Richard E.C. Layne, Chin S. Tan, David M. Hunter, and Robert A. Cline

Seven treatment combinations of irrigation and fertilizer were compared in a high-density (606 trees/ha) management system for peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch cv. Harrow Beauty/Bailey] on Fox sand in southwestern Ontario. Each treatment combination had an irrigation component (N = nonirrigated, D = drip irrigated, or M = microsprinkler irrigated) and a fertilizer placement component (B = banded fertilizer, L = low fertigation, or H = high fertigation). NB and DB are commonly used systems in Ontario, while the other five treatment combinations were experimental. Total soil water in the top 110 cm of soil was lowest under NB but was never at the permanent wilting point. Trunk cross-sectional area was largest under DH and DB, smallest under ML and NB, and intermediate for the other three treatment combinations. No symptoms of N or K deficiency or toxicity were noted for any of the fertilizer treatments. Leaf analyses in July and September indicated that most major and minor elements were in the adequate to slightly excess range. However, there were no significant treatment effects on leaf nutrient concentrations in July or September when averaged over the five years, except for Mg in July. There were large and significant year effects on leaf nutrient concentrations but no significant treatment × year interactions. During the first four cropping years, there were no significant treatment effects, averaged over years, for total yield, marketable yield, or cumulative yield efficiency; however, there were large year effects but no treatment × year interactions for these factors. There was no detectable yield advantage for D vs. M irrigation. B application of N and K promoted no higher yields than fertigation equivalent to the B rate or 50% of this rate. Fertigation of N and K during the first 4 years of this experiment did not provide a detectable yield advantage to warrant the added cost and labor associated with this system compared with the B applications of N and K.

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Richard E.C. Layne, Chin S. Tan, David M. Hunter, and Robert A. Cline

Seven high-density (606 trees/ha) management systems for peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch cv. Harrow Beauty/Bailey] were compared on Fox sand in southwestern Ontario. Each system had an irrigation component (N = none D = drip, M = microsprinkler) and a fertilizer placement component (B = banded, L= low-rate fertigation, H = high rate fertigation). NB (nonirrigated, banded fertilizer) and DB (drip-irrigated) are commonly used systems in Ontario, while the other five treatment combinations were experimental. Trunk cross-sectional area (TCA) was generally greatest for DH and DB systems, smallest for ML and NB systems, and intermediate for the other three. No symptoms of N or K deficiency or excess were noted for any of the fertilizer treatments. The seven management systems each had similar cumulative yield efficiencies for the first 4 cropping years However, total marketable yields for the 4 years were highest for MB (58.7 t·ha–1), followed in descending order by DB (56.8 t·ha–1), DH (56.6 t·ha–1), MH (53.9 t·ha–1), DL (50.6 t·ha–1), ML (49.8 t·ha–1), and NB (47.5 t·ha–1). Each of the irrigated treatments outyielded the nonirrigated check (NB) and ranged from 4.8% to 23.6%. Only one of the irrigated treatments (MB) outyielded the irrigated check (DB), and by only 3.3%. There was no clear advantage for either the drip or microsprinkler system of irrigation. Banded application of N and K appeared to promote higher yields than by fertigation equivalent to the banded rate, while yields at the low rate of fertigation were lower than for either the high rate of fertigation or the banded application. It appeared that banded fertilizer combined with either microsprinkler (MB) or drip irrigation DB provided the most-effective of the management systems in the first 4 cropping years.