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Chenggang Wang, Rolf Färe and Clark F. Seavert

In this paper we analyze the sources of variation in revenue per unit of trunk cross-sectional area (TCA) across a 0.87-ha block of 272 pear (Pyrus communis L.) trees in 2003. Revenue capacity efficiency associated with TCA provides an overall measure of nutrient deficiency and revenue inefficiency caused by environmental constraints in the fruit production process. Data envelopment analysis (DEA) is adopted to estimate revenue capacity efficiency and its components. The deficiencies of macro- and micronutrients are measured and optimal nutrient levels computed for each individual tree. These measures are aggregated for comparing between grids and between rootstocks.

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Xinhua Yin, Jinhe Bai and Clark F. Seavert

Single broadcast application of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) on the soil surface results in low use efficiency of applied N and P in pear (Pyrus communis) production systems in Oregon and the Pacific northwestern United States. A field experiment was conducted from 2005 through 2006 to evaluate the effects of split fertigation and band placement as alternate N and P management practices in ‘Anjou’ pears growing on a Parkdale loam soil near Parkdale, OR. Measurement and analysis of tree nutrition, fruit yield, quality, and storability, as well as indigenous soil nutrient supply was the scope of the experiment. To evaluate fertilizer management practices on pear growth and productivity, the following four treatments were tested with a randomized complete block design replicated four times: 1) broadcast application of N and P on the soil surface in a 10-ft-wide, weed-free strip centered on the tree row, 2) band placement of N and P on both sides of tree rows in 1 × 1-ft ditches (width × depth), 3) 1 × 1-ft ditches were dug using the band placement equipment, the dug soil was completed returned to the ditch without any fertilizer, and the broadcast application of N and P on the soil surface was applied on a 10-ft-wide, weed-free strip centered on the tree row, and 4) fertigation of N and P split into five equal applications throughout the growing season. Nitrogen and P fertilizers were applied to treatments 1, 2, and 3 at 100 lb/acre N and 55 lb/acre P, while treatment 4 received only 80 lb/acre N and 44 lb/acre P. The 2-year average results show leaf N and P concentrations in the fall were increased by 10.0% and 10.6%, respectively, with split fertigation compared with broadcast application on the soil surface. Band placement increased leaf N by 7.1% relative to broadcast application on the soil surface with soil disturbance caused by band placement. Split fertigation and band placement slightly increased fruit yield, but increased marketable fruit (the total of excellent and very slightly scalded fruit) by 20.9% and 11.1% (absolute value) when compared with broadcast application of N and P and broadcast application of N and P with soil disturbance caused by band placement, respectively, and after 3 months of cold storage. No detrimental effects on fruit weight or reduction in soil amino sugar N were observed from lowering the N and P application rates by 20% with split fertigation. Overall, split fertigation and band placement of N and P can be used to replace single broadcast application on the soil surface on pear orchards to reduce fruit superficial scald during cold storage and improve the use efficiency of applied N and P in the mid-Columbia region of Oregon.

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Paul M. Chen, Diane M. Varga and Clark F. Seavert

We have established that `d'Anjou' pears (Pyrus communis) are properly ripened for fresh-cut use when flesh firmness (FF) is between 5 lb (2.3 kg) and 7 lb (3.2 kg). In this study, the fruit was ripened in air enriched with 100 ppm (mL·L-1) ethylene at 68 °F (20.0 °C). Afterward, we investigated three slicing methods, each employing a fruit sectionizer for dividing individual pears into eight wedges. The easiest and most convenient cutting procedure involved pouring an antibrowning agent onto the incision, but without allowing the fruit to directly contact the air. We evaluated various combinations of L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and potassium chloride (KCl) for their ability to prevent any discoloration while also not affecting taste or injuring the cut surface. The most suitable antibrowning solution contained 10% L-ascorbic acid and 2% KCl (pH 2.3). A dipping time of 30 s was sufficient for maintaining the wedges with little discoloration over a 14-d period, at either 30 or 35 °F (-1.1 or 1.7 °C). Here, we also present a prototype design for a 1.6-pt (0.76-L) transparent plastic container with eight compartments for holding wedges sliced with a commercially available sectionizer.

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Roberto Nunez-Elisea, Helen Cahn, Lilia Caldeira and Clark F. Seavert

Black, woven polypropylene row covers were compared to chemical sprays as methods to manage ground vegetation in a `Regina'/Gisela 6 orchard planted in 2001. Row covers were installed within 1 month of planting. Exposed row cover width was 2.4 m, with edges (30 cm on each side) buried in the ground. Only a 30-cm band along the edge of row covers was sprayed with herbicide to facilitate mowing. Weed management of control trees consisted of chemical herbicide sprays. Trees were not fertilized since planting in 2001. Irrigation of all trees was applied with low volume (20 L·h-1) microsprinklers and scheduled according to soil water content. Row covers significantly increased trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA) by about 30% annually. By Summer 2004, trees with ground covers had filled their allotted space within rows, while control canopies were ≈50 cm apart. Trees in row covers produced a 130% higher average yield than controls (7.4 kg/tree vs. 3.2 kg/tree). Row covers produced larger and firmer fruit, which matured 2–3 days later than controls. Groundcovers slightly increased soil temperature from April to September by ≈2 °C at 5- and 10-cm depths. Roots under ground covers were denser and more spread out than in controls and water use efficiency was higher for trees growing in ground covers. Amount and labor for herbicide application was reduced to less than half with row covers. Although ground covers are expensive at ≈$2000 per acre, their cost could be offset by earlier and higher production and by long-term savings in labor, water use, and herbicides. Durability of row covers is expected to exceed 15 years.

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Xinhua Yin, Clark F. Seavert, Janet Turner, Roberto Núñez-Elisea and Helen Cahn

The impacts of synthetic polypropylene groundcover in the row area of young sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) trees (Regina on Gisela 6) on soil nutrient availability, tree mineral nutrition and productivity, and cash costs and returns were investigated on a Van Horn fine sandy loam soil at Hood River, Ore., from 2001 to 2005. Treatments included 2.44-m wide synthetic fabric groundcover made of black, woven polypropylene over the row area of cherry trees and no groundcover but with herbicide applications in the row area with the same width as the polypropylene groundcover. Soil-available NO3 , P, K, Ca, Mg, S, B, Zn, Mn, and Cu contents in 0 to 30 cm in August did not differ significantly between the cover and no cover treatments in any year except 2005, when soil N and K levels were lower with polypropylene cover. Leaf N concentration in August was enhanced by 11% to 19% each year in the polypropylene cover treatment. However, leaf P concentration was lowered by 19% to 37% with polypropylene cover each year; and leaf Ca and Mg concentrations were reduced by 9% to 13% and 6% to 24%, respectively, as a result of polypropylene cover in 3 of 5 years. Reduced leaf P, Ca, and Mg concentrations in the cover treatment were attributed to the diluting effects of enhanced tree growth and fruit yield. Cumulative cash costs for the orchard within the first 4 years before fruit production were $5246/ha higher with polypropylene cover relative to no cover. However, these costs were offset quickly by increased returns from enhanced fruit yields. In the long-term, more fertilizers may need to be applied on polypropylene groundcovered trees to compensate for the enhanced tree growth and fruit production.

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Xinhua Yin, Lynn E. Long, Xiao-Lan Huang, Ngowari Jaja, Jinhe Bai, Clark F. Seavert and Jac le Roux

A field trial was conducted on a Cherryhill silt loam soil at The Dalles, OR, from 2006 to 2008. The impacts of switching from the traditional micro sprinkler irrigation (MS) to double-lateral drip irrigation (DD) and from no groundcover with herbicide control of weeds (NC) to in-row wheat (Triticum aestivum) straw mulching (ST) were evaluated in a split-plot design with four replicates. Irrigation water use, mineral nutrition, and productivity of ‘Lapins’ sweet cherry (Prunus avium) on ‘Mazzard’ rootstock (P. avium) and soil quality were measured on a plot basis. DD reduced irrigation water consumption by 47.6% to 58.2% compared with MS. Straw mulch lowered irrigation water use by 9.7% relative to NC. Total fruit yield and fruit quality of firmness, size, and sugar at harvest were similar for the irrigation treatments. Straw mulch increased fruit size by 0.6 mm on average relative to NC, which could result in increased grower profitability. The DD system enhanced percentage of marketable fruit by 8.6% relative to MS. Leaf phosphorus (P), boron (B), zinc (Zn), and iron (Fe) concentrations were reduced with DD over MS; consequently, more P, B, Zn, and Fe fertilizers might be needed under DD. Straw mulch markedly decreased the populations of flagellates and amoebae but slightly increased the population of ciliates. Straw mulch resulted in a soil microbial community with remarkably less protozoa. Overall, DD is a viable alternate irrigation system for producing sweet cherry orchards with limited water resources for irrigation. Switching from NC to ST could lower irrigation water use, reduce herbicide runoff, and protect soil from erosion.

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Rachel B. Elkins, Janet D. Turner, Steve Castagnoli, Clark F. Seavert, Elizabeth J. Mitcham, William V. Biasi and Ann Colonna

Assessing consumer acceptance is an important aspect of cultivar evaluation. Since 2002, about 2700 consumers have participated in pear preference surveys. Surveys were conducted on multiple dates and at multiple venues from 2002 to 2005 in Oregon and northern California. Survey participants were asked to indicate their preference for pears based on size, appearance, taste, and overall preference. They were also asked to indicate what attributes they liked or disliked about their favorite and least favorite varieties and to indicate their level of purchase intent. Each survey consisted of four to six cultivars, including at least one standard commercial comparison; i.e., Bartlett, Bosc, or Anjou. Data was analyzed (RCBD; Friedman Analysis of Rank or ANOVA/Tukey's HSD) at the OSU Food Innovation Center Experiment Station using Compusense® five v.4.6 software (Guelph, Ont., Canada). Results indicated several alternative possibilities for both summer and winter sales. Among the most preferred cultivars (variable between states) were Anjou (commercial standard winter pear), Bartlett (commercial standard summer pear and most-consumed cultivar), Blake's Pride, Cinnamon, Concorde, and 71655-014. Other major findings were preference for large pears for adults and small for children, overall liking based on sweetness and flavor rather than skin color, and general lack of knowledge of many commercial pear cultivars. Sensory evaluation surveys will be continued in 2006 in California, with focus on differential harvest times for selected preferred cultivars. Consumer preference data is being combined with production and postharvest quality data in order to provide the pear industry a comprehensive data set on potential alternative cultivars.