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J.G. Williamson and D.C. Coston

Several planting treatments modified vegetative and reproductive growth of young, own-rooted peach (Prums persica) trees evaluated at two levels of irrigation in a high-density orchard (5000 trees/ha). Trees planted in auger holes, narrow herbicide strips, and in fabric-lined trenches, but not those from raised beds, were smaller than control trees set in holes dug with a shovel. After two growing seasons, trees planted in the fabric-lined trenches were smaller and had more flowers per node and greater flower bud densities than trees in other planting treatments. Yield efficiency was greatest for this treatment, although fruit size was small throughout the orchard. Irrigation rates did not affect fruit yield or size. The effects of irrigation rate on vegetative growth were small compared to differences among planting treatments.

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J.G. Williamson, D.C. Coston, and J.A. Cornell

Planting treatments were evaluated for their influence on shoot development and root distribution of own-rooted `Redhaven' peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] trees planted to high density (5000 trees/ha). Planting in fabric-lined trenches (FLT) or narrow herbicide strips (NHS) reduced the diameter and length of primary shoots, the number and combined length of second-order shoots, and the total length of shoots. Flower density, the number of flowers per node, and the percentage of nodes containing one or more flowers were increased for FLT trees but not for NHS trees when compared with controls. The length of primary shoots increased quadratically for all treatments with increasing limb cross-sectional area (LCA). The total length of shoots increased more with increasing LCA for controls than for FLT trees. The number of flowers per shoot increased linearly for all treatments with increasing LCA values. Root concentration decreased with increasing soil depth and distance from tree rows for all treatments. Reduced widths of weed-free herbicide strips had little effect on root distribution. Roots of FLT trees were reduced in number and restricted vertically and laterally when compared with other planting treatments. The FLT treatment modified shoot development by reducing the length of total shoots and length of primary shoots across LCA values measured when compared with NHS and control-treatments.

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W.C. Olien, R.E. Williamson, C.E. Hood, D.R. Decoteau, and D.C. Coston

Factorial combinations of ± root pruning (RP) and ± summer pruning (SP) were initiated in 1991 as subplots within a Redhaven/Lovell study of orchard training systems: Open Center (OC), Y-Trellis (YT), Central Leader (CL), and Meadow Orchard (MO) established in 1985. Root pruning was imposed at bloom (March 28) at 76 cm from the trunk to a depth of 45 cm. Summer pruning consisted of preharvest removal of water sprouts (June 5). Canopy density, quantified by transmittance of PAR radiation through the canopy, was greatest in OC and MO and least in YT and CL systems. SP and RP treatments further reduced canopy density by 35 to 80%. There were no main or interactive effects of SP and RP on 1991 yields or fruit quality, and also no interactive effects of orchard systems with SP and RP. Thus, SP and RP reduced canopy density without negative effects on fruit. RP, however, advanced harvest date by ca 4 days. A parallel study was also initiated in 1991 to determine the effects of root pruning distance (30, 60, 90 cm from the trunk, or no RP) on canopy density, yield, and fruit quality of mature, OC-trained Redhaven/ and Jefferson/Lovell. Reduction in canopy density without loss of yield or fruit size was obtained at a RP distance between 60 and 90 cm.

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Gregory L. Reighard, William A. Watson, D.C. Coston, and John D. Ridley