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Connie L. Fisk, Michael L. Parker and Wayne Mitchem

Orchard floor vegetation competes with peach trees for water and nutrients and may harbor pathogens and insects. Tree growth, fruit yield, and fruit size can be optimized through management of vegetation in the tree row and irrigation. Under-tree vegetation-free strip widths (0, 0.6, 1.2, 2.4, 3.0, and 3.6 m) and irrigation were studied in years four through eight of a young peach orchard to determine their effects on peach tree growth and fruit yield, harvest maturity, and fruit size. Immature fruit samples were collected during thinning in years four through six to determine the effect of the treatments on the incidence of hemipteran (catfacing) insect damage. Trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA), as a measure of tree growth, increased with increasing vegetation-free strip width; trees grown in the 3.6-m vegetation-free strip had TCSAs 2.2 times greater, on average, than trees grown in the 0-m vegetation-free strip. TCSA also increased with irrigation; trees grown with irrigation had TCSAs 1.2 times greater, on average, than trees grown without irrigation. Yield increased with increasing vegetation-free strip width, from 9.6 kg per tree in the 0-m plot to 26.5 kg per tree in the 3.6-m plot in year four, to 24.3 kg per tree in the 0-m plot and 39.6 kg per tree in the 3.6-m plot in year eight, for a total yield over years 4–8 per tree of 100 kg in the 0-m plot compared with 210 kg per tree in the 3.6-m plot. Yield, average fruit weight, and average fruit diameter increased with irrigation in three of 5 years; the other 2 years had higher than average rainfall reducing the need for supplemental irrigation. In 3 out of 5 years fruit in irrigated plots matured earlier than fruit in nonirrigated plots. In all years, fruit grown in the 0-m strip matured earliest and had the smallest diameter. Establishing a vegetation-free strip of as narrow as 0.6 m reduced the incidence of catfacing damage compared with the 0-m treatment, even though the orchard was on a commercial pesticide spray schedule. The least damage was seen with the industry standard vegetation-free strip widths greater than 3.0 m with or without irrigation.

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Connie L. Fisk, Yanyun Zhao and Bernadine C. Strik

Iodine staining of starch was explored as a harvest index for hardy kiwifruit (Actinidia arguta). Weekly from 2 Sept. to 14 Oct. 2005, the cut surfaces of 20 halved fruit were dipped in an iodine solution and the staining intensity was measured using digital photography and color analysis. Harvest date had a significant effect on percent soluble solids and each of the color readings (L*, a*, b*, and chroma) before and after staining. Fruit harvested later in the season had less starch and thus were lighter in color. However, an observable color difference was only visually apparent weeks after commercial harvest is recommended based on percent soluble solids. Therefore, while the technique can distinguish the conversion of starch to sugar in hardy kiwifruit berries, it cannot be used as a harvest index.