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Open access

P. D. Mitchell and D. J. Chalmers

Abstract

A range of irrigation levels was compared in specific periods of fruit development to determine their suitability for control of tree vigor and yields in ultra-dense orchards of peach [Prunus persica L. Batsch] trees. Where trees in the 3rd leaf were trickle-irrigated with 4 levels (100, 50, 25, and 12.5%) of replacement of Eps (evaporation over the planting square) during the period of rapid vegetative growth, both frame and fruit growth declined as irrigation quantity decreased. In the following period of maximum fruit growth, 130% of Eps replacement increased vegetative growth but not fruit growth compared to 100% Eps. The fruit, however, grew faster in this period on those trees which had received low levels of Eps replacement in the earlier period of maximum vegetative growth. The net result was similar final fruit size and yield between treatments, combined with control of vegetative growth at the lower levels of Eps. A large saving in irrigation water was obtained at the lower levels of replacement of Eps.

Open access

P. D. Mitchell and D. J. Chalmers

Abstract

Root spread from close-planted (5.5 × 1 m) peach trees [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] was restricted when irrigated from trickle or microjet outlets. Roots spread less under trickle, and trees grew more slowly but cropped earlier. Fruit set heavily on both treatments in 5th leaf. The results suggest that irrigation technique can be used as a management tool affecting tree growth and productivity for close-planted orchards.

Open access

B. van den Ende and D. J. Chalmers

Abstract

Cumulative yields in commercial plantings of clingstone peach trees [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] trained on the V-shaped Tatura Trellis system (average density 1800 trees/ha) were 145 MT/ha after 5 growing seasons as compared to 52 MT/ha in commercial orchards with low densities of conventional vase-shaped trees (average density 300 trees/ha). The best yield obtained with higher tree densities in commercial orchards (537 trees/ha) for the same period was 91 MT/ha.

Open access

P. D. Mitchell, P. H. Jerie, and D. J. Chalmers

Abstract

Three levels of water deficit generated by 3 levels of irrigation applied at times of rapid vegetative growth and/or slow fruit growth were compared to determine their suitability for restricting vegetative growth on 5-year-old ‘Bartlett’ pear (Prunus communis L.) trees trained to a Tatura Trellis. For the period of Regulated Deficit Irrigation (RDI), the amount of water applied replaced 92%, 47%, and 23% of the evaporation calculated over the planting square (Eps). In the subsequent period of rapid fruit growth until harvest, all trees were irrigated with 150% Eps to ensure that the wetting pattern from the trickle system wetted the entire root zone. Shoot and frame growth declined in proportion to the water deficit. Fruit tended to grow more slowly on the 23% than 46% treatment during RDI, but growth on the 46% and 92% Eps treatments was similar. In the subsequent period of full irrigation, fruit growth initially was significantly faster on the RDI treatments, and the same trend was maintained for most of the remainder of fruit growth. The net result was that yield was marginally increased RDI treatments. In the subsequent season, flowering was increased on trees recieving RDI in the previous season.

Open access

D. J. Chalmers, P. D. Mitchell, and L. van Heek

Abstract

Root competition (tree density), summer pruning, and regulated irrigation were studied to determine whether they can be used to control tree vigor and productivity in ultra-dense orchards of peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch]. All methods appeared to inhibit tree growth, but regulated irrigation combined with root competition generated from high tree density was most effective. Fruit yields and fruit growth were significantly increased (up to 30%) by high tree density combined with low rate of water application when water stress limited shoot growth but stimulated subsequent fruit growth. Periods of low rate of water application are specified.

Open access

Peter D. Mitchell, B. van den Ende, P.H. Jerie, and D.J. Chalmers

Abstract

Fruit yield was increased, summer pruning decreased, and water saved when regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) and withholding irrigation (WI) were used over 5 years to manage mature ‘Bartlett’ pear ( Pyrus communis L.) trees planted at three levels of within-row spacing (0.5, 0.75, and 1.0 m) and trained to a Tatura trellis. Three levels of irrigation, 23%, 46%, and 92% replacement of evaporation from the planting square (Eps), were compared during the RDI period. Weight of summer prunings was positively and linearly related to level of irrigation in each year, including a relatively wet year. When compared between years, the degree of this response on the dried treatment was positively and significantly related to net evaporation (evaporation – rainfall) recorded during the period of rapid shoot growth. Fruit number also tended to be greater on the 23% and 46% Eps treatments in all years. Cumulative yield over 10 years of cropping did not differ between tree spacing, although fruit size was larger at the 1-m spacing. High yields were obtained at all levels of tree spacing. Yield and tree growth responded most to RDI for the 0.5-m-spaced trees.

Open access

P.D. Mitchell, D.J. Chalmers, and L.A.G. van Heek

Abstract

Hardwood cuttings of peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] were taken in July and planted in November at 2 levels of spacing (2 x 1 m and 4 x 1 m). Alternate rows at the 2 x 1 m spacing were considered to be temporary and pruned to minimize competition with the permanent trees. All trees cropped in 2nd leaf. Individual trees at 2 x 1 m were more fruitful and yielded 19 MT ha-1 of canning size fruit compared to 7 MT ha-1 from the 4 x 1 m planting. In 3rd and 4th leaf, the permanent trees at the 2 x 1 m spacing continued to be more fruitful than their 4 x 1 m counterparts. By the 5th leaf, however, yield per tree was greater at the 4 x 1 m spacing. Results show that the temporary trees should have been removed prior to 5th leaf before severe pruning of the permanent trees became necessary.

Open access

P.D. Mitchell, D.J. Chalmers, P.H. Jerie, and G. Burge

Abstract

Withholding irrigation (WI), followed by regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) at 2 levels, were compared with conventionally scheduled irrigation during rapid vegetative growth on ‘Bartlett’ pear (Pyrus communis L.) trees. All trees were irrigated at an increased common level during subsequent rapid fruit growth, by which time most vegetative growth had ceased. Irrigation effects were studied at 3 tree spacings (4 × 1 m, 4 × 0.75 m, and 4 × 0.5 m). Shoot and frame growth was related directly to early irrigation treatment before summer pruning. However, significant shoot growth that was reinitiated following summer pruning during one year increased on RDI treatments. The improved tree water status gained by changing from RDI to full irrigation in both years and from WI to RDI in the first year stimulated the growth rate of the total crop on the RDI treatments. Gross yield was increased significantly by WI and RDI in both years. Blossom density also was increased. Preliminary WI increased the control of vegetative growth by RDI when the soil was wet at flowering.

Open access

D.J. Chalmers, G. Burge, P.H. Jerie, and P.D. Mitchell

Abstract

After initially withholding irrigation (WI) to dry out the root zone of pear trees, regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) applied to replace 23% and 46% of evaporation over the planting square (Eps) was compared with 69% and 92% Eps applied during the WI and RDI periods, respectively (full irrigation). Irrigation was increased to 120% Eps on all treatments after rapid fruit growth commenced. Leaf water potential (ψ1) measured at dawn and midday became less negative during RDI than during WI but in both periods was more negative than the control (69%/92% Eps). On the other hand, ψ1 of treatments receiving WI and RDI became less negative than the control when all irrigation treatments were increased to 120% Eps. Withholding irrigation followed by RDI reduced vegetative growth by 52%. In contrast, however, WI did not inhibit fruit growth, while, during RDI following WI fruit, growth was stimulated. A similar but greater stimulation of fruit growth (consistent with relatively less negative ψ1) was measured on WI/RDI plants when all treatments received 120% Eps. This stimulation of fruit growth increased yields by about 20%. The results indicate fruit osmoregulate to maintain and/or increase growth at the expense of inhibited vegetative growth when WI and or RDI reduce ψ1 in spring to values approaching −0.5 MPa at dawn.