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Tara A. Baugher, Kendall C. Elliott, David W. Leach, B.D. Horton and Stephen S. Miller

Studies were conducted on peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] during 1988 to 1990 to test the performance of a tree-width rope-curtain bloom thinner and a rotating rope-curtain thinner. Six trips over the tree canopy were required with the tree-width rope curtain, and only one trip was required with the rotating curtain to thin to a spacing of about one flower per 9 cm of fruiting shoot length. Based on the number of flowers per square centimeter of branch cross-sectional area (CSA) immediately following thinning and the number of fruit per square centimeter of CSA following June drop, rope-curtain thinning was equal to hand-thinning at full bloom (FB). Rope-curtain thinning reduced hand-thinning time by 40% and increased harvest fruit weight by 10% to 20%. Research on various modifications in tree training/pruning indicated that performance of the mechanical thinner was negatively correlated with shoot density. Thinning was maximum on open-center-trained trees on which detailed pruning had been conducted to eliminate overlapping shoots.

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T. Auxt Baugher, H.W. Hogmire, A.R. Biggs, S.I. Walter, D.W. Leach, T. Winfield and G.W. Lightner

Apple packout audits were conducted during 1991 to 1993 to assess effects of five orchard systems (three cultivars, two age groups) on fruit packout and determine if relationships exist between light quality and productivity. Cultivar/rootstock combinations on 1979 T-trellis and central-leader systems had the lowest light levels and relative yields. Trees on either 1979 3-wire trellis, 1986 MIA, or 1985 West Virginia spindle had the highest light transmission, and trees on 1979 or 1985 West Virginia spindle systems had the highest yields. Extra fancy/fancy packouts across systems ranged from 40% to 85%. `Empire', regardless of system, had the highest packouts, and `Golden Delicious' on 1979 or 1986 central leader had the lowest packouts. A regression analysis comparing percentage packout in grades below fancy to percentage full sun indicated that reduced packouts were related to low light conditions. Orchard system influenced the number of fruit downgraded due to color, russet, bruises, bitter pit, cork spot, apple scab, rots, sooty blotch/fly speck, and tufted apple budmoth. Regression analyses comparing defects to field data indicated that bitter pit decreased as yield efficiency increased, and rot and sooty blotch/fly speck incidence were related to low canopy light penetration. Revenue losses were disproportionate to percentage of downgraded fruit because some defects had a greater impact on grade than others. The greatest revenue losses were for russet in `Golden Delicious' on 1986 central leader ($1656.60/acre) and for bitter pit in `Golden Delicious' on 1979 T-trellis ($1067.30/acre). Total losses in returns for individual systems ranged from $453.71/acre for `Empire' on 3-wire trellis to $3145.49/acre for `Golden Delicious' on 1986 central leader. The comparisons of young versus mature system yields and packouts indicate that medium- to high-density vertical or inclined canopy systems are superior to horizontal or low-density vertical freestanding systems. The cost-benefit analyses prescribe areas where management can be changed in existing systems to increase profitability.

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Gary W. Stutte, Tara A. Baugher, Sandra P. Walter, David W. Leach, D. Michael Glenn and Thomas J. Tworkoski

A study was conducted to quantify the effects of rootstock and training system on C allocation in apple. Dry-matter distribution was determined at harvest in 5-year-old `Golden Delicious' apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) trees on four rootstocks (MM.111 EMLA, M.7a, M.26 EMLA, and M.9 EMLA) and in three training systems (three-wire palmette, free-standing central leader, and nonpruned). Mobilizable carbohydrate content was determined at harvest and leaf fall in trees from the same planting on MM.111 EMLA and M.9 EMLA in all three training systems. Training system effects interacted with rootstock effects in dry weights of branches and of fruit. Nonpruned system shoot and fruit dry weights reflected known rootstock vigor; whereas, pruned system (three-wire and central leader) shoot dry weights were greatest and fruit dry weights were lowest in trees on M.7a. Rootstock affected the partitioning of dry matter between above- and below-ground tree components, with MM.111 EMLA accumulating significantly more dry matter in the root system than trees on the other rootstocks. Trees in the central leader and the three-wire palmette systems partitioned more dry weight into nonbearing 1-year shoots than trees in the nonpruned system. Root starch content at harvest was greater in trees on MM.111 EMLA than on M.9 EMLA, and root sucrose and sorbitol were less in trees on MM.111 EMLA compared to M.9 EMLA. At leaf fall, starch in young roots was equal in trees on both rootstocks, and sorbitol again was lower in trees on MM.111 EMLA. Harvest starch content of roots, shoots, and branches was lower in nonpruned than in pruned trees. At leaf fall, root, shoot, and branch starch content increased in nonpruned and central leader-trained trees but did not increase in three-wire palmette-trained trees.