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David C. Ferree

`Jonathan'/M.26 apple (Malus domestics Borkh.) trees were root-pruned annually on two sides, 60 cm from the trunk, to a depth of 40 cm for 6 years while dormant, at bloom, or in mid-June. Root pruning reduced terminal shoot growth by ≈30% in 1985-89 with no influence in 1990. Cumulative yield was reduced by root pruning at bloom (14%) or mid-June (20%), and cumulative yield efficiency [kg·cm-2 trunk cross-sectional area) was reduced by root pruning with no difference among pruning times except in 1 year, where abundant moisture throughout the season appeared to negate the effect. The intensity of biennial bearing was reduced by root pruning with no relationships to time of pruning. Root pruning resulted in a decrease in large fruit and an increase in small fruit in 3 of the 6 years. A covariant analysis with yield showed that root pruning reduced average fruit size. Root-pruned trees produced firmer fruit with an increased soluble solids concentration and had less preharvest drop than nonpruned trees. Under severe drought conditions in 1988, root pruning reduced net photosynthesis and transpiration; supplemental water (57 liters·week-1) increased transpiration and fruit size at harvest.

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David C. Ferree

The apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) cultivars Starkspur Supreme Delicious and Melrose were planted in 1987 on eight apomictic apple rootstock selections made in Germany by Dr. Hanna Schmidt and on M.7. Selections 2 [M. hupehensis (Pamp.) Rehd. parentage] and 8 [M. sieboldii (Regel) Rehd. parentage] were similar to M.7 in precocity, cumulative yield per tree, and yield efficiency, while the other selections with M. sargenti Rehd. in their parentage were slower to flower and had lower yields and yield efficiencies. Selections 2 and 8 tended to result in larger trees than M.7, while the selections with M. sargenti parentage were generally similar to M.7 in size. Except for trees on M.7 and selection 2, `Starkspur Supreme Delicious' developed more severe symptoms of internal bark necrosis (IBN) than did `Melrose', which normally does not show IBN. However, `Melrose' showed IBN symptoms on selections with M. sargenti parentage. IBN symptoms were positively correlated with leaf Mn concentrations. Influence of rootstocks on other nutrient elements, although significant, were small compared to the effect on Mn. A significant interaction occurred between cultivar and rootstock in their effects upon branch morphology, mostly because fewer flowering spurs and more vegetative spurs were observed on `Melrose' than on `Starkspur Supreme Delicious' when grafted on Selection 2. These apomictic selections offered no advantage over M.7 as rootstocks for apples.

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David C. Ferree

Container-grown apple trees on a range of rootstocks were exposed to different levels of soil compaction created by changing soil bulk density. In 1998, with soil bulk densities of 1.0, 1.2, and 1.4, there was no interaction of rootstock and soil compaction for shoot growth of `Melrose' trees on 7 rootstocks. However, in 1999, with soil bulk densities of 1.0 and 1.5, a significant interaction on shoot growth did occur with six rootstocks. Shoot length of trees on M.9, M.7, and G.30 were less influenced than G.16, M.26 and MM.106. A bulk density of 1. 5 caused a decrease in dry weight of shoots, leaves, and roots of trees on all rootstocks. Compacted soil resulted in a decrease in leaf concentration of K and B and an increase in Mg and Mn.

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David C. Ferree

In 1981, four apple cultivars were established as a low trellis hedgerow on M.9 or free-standing central leaders on M.7 at the recommended or half the recommended spacing with the close planted trees either root pruned annually at bloom or hedged in August. Planting at half the spacing and annual summer hedging 2 sides decreased TCA 25% and canopy volume 51% with no effect on shoot growth, while annual root pruning decreased TCA 34%, canopy volume 50% and shoot length 25%. Planting at half spacing and either hedging or root pruning reduced yields per tree. Efficiency as measured by yield TCA was decreased by hedging and as measured by yield/m3 canopy volume was increased by both treatments with hedging having the greatest effect. The cumulative yield/ha was increased by both hedging and root pruning with no difference between them. Fruit size was decreased by close planting and root pruning caused a greater decrease than hedging. Close planting increased the number of spurs and shoots and LAI per unit volume of canopy with no difference between hedging or root pruning. `Empire' outproduced `Smoothee' and `Delicious' on the trellis and `Lawspur' had higher yields than any other cultivar in the central leader.

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David C. Ferree

In 1987, `Smoothee Golden Delicious' (`Smoothee') and `Lawspur Rome Beauty' (`Lawspur') apple (Malus domestica Borkh,) trees were planted and trained as central leaders or palmette leaders on M.7 and Mark rootstocks or were planted as slender spindles on Mark rootstocks. `Smoothee' trees were larger and had consistently greater yields and production per unit trunk cross-sectional area (TCA) than `Lawspur' trees. Slender spindle trees had lower early yields per tree and TCA but had greater cumulative yields per hectare than trees in the other training systems. In the fifth and sixth growing seasons, `Smoothee' trained as palmette leaders tended to have higher yields per hectare then central leader trees. Training system had little influence on `Lawspur' tree yields. Limb bending in 1989 increased flower density in 1989 and 1990. Cumulative yield per hectare increased 11% as a result of limb bending of trees on Mark rootstock, but bending had no influence on trees on M.7 rootstock. `Smoothee' on Mark had higher cumulative yields per hectare with the palmette leader and central leader than either `Smoothee' on M.7 in either training system or any combination with `Lawspur'.

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David C. Ferree

`Melrose'/M.26 apple (Malus domestics Borkh.) trees were mechanically root-pruned annually for 9 years at bloom to a 25-cm depth at 80 cm from the trunk on two sides. An evaluation of the number of roots of four size categories on the exposed wall of a 1.2 x 2-m trench located 1 m from the trunk indicated that root pruning caused a reduction in all root size categories. Roots < 1 mm in diameter were reduced 20% by root pruning, while the reduction in larger roots was nearly double this amount. The effect of root pruning on root distribution was greatest in the top 30 cm of soil, parallel to the location of the root-pruning cut. Roots below 30 cm were unaffected. The number of roots in all size categories in samples taken parallel and perpendicular to the row decreased linearly with soil depth.

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David C. Ferree

In 1987, `Starkspur Supreme Delicious' and `Melrose' were planted on eight apomitic apple selections made in Germany by Dr. Hanna Schmidt for use as rootstocks and compared to trees on M.7. Selection 2, was the most precocious, followed by trees on M.7, with selections 1 and 7 being less precocious than M.7. Selections 2 and 8 were 25% larger than M.7, while 1, 3, 4, and 7 were similar in size and 5 was 15% smaller than trees on M.7. Selections 2 and 8 had the highest cumulative yields/tree, followed by trees on M.7, with all other selections having lower yields. Internal bark necrosis (IBN) developed on the `Delicious' trees, with the most-severe symptoms on selections 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, with less-severe symptoms on 8 and very little present on trees on M.7. IBN was correlated with leaf Mn levels. In 1995, the highest density of flowering spurs occurred on M.7 and selections 3 and 7, with lower densities in selections 2 and 5. Selection 2 had the highest density of non-fl owering spurs, followed by selection 5, with all others having lower densities similar to trees on M.7.

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Peter M. Hirst and David C. Ferree

Two-year-old branch sections of `Starkspur Supreme Delicious' apple (Malus domestics Borkh.) trees growing on 17 rootstock were studied over 6 years to determine the effects of rootstock on shoot morphology and spur quality and describe how these factors may be related to precocity and productivity. Shoot length was affected by rootstock and was positively related to trunk cross-sectional area within each year, but the slope of the regression line decreased as trees matured. The number of spurs on a shoot was largely a product of shoot length. Spur density was inversely related to shoot length, where rootstock with longer shoots had lower spur densities. Flower density was not related to spur density, and shoot length only accounted for a minor part of the variation in flower density. The proportion of spurs that produced flowers was closely related to flower density, indicating that rootstock influence flower density by affecting the development of individual buds rather than by the production of more buds. More vigorous rootstock generally had spurs with larger individual leaves and higher total leaf area per spur, but fewer spur leaves with lower specific leaf weights. More precocious rootstock were also more productive over a 10-year period when yields were standardized for tree size. Tree size was the best indicator of precocity and productivity, which could be predicted with a high degree of certainty as early as the 4th year.

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David C. Ferree and W. Timothy Rhodus

Annual mechanical hedging in August or root pruning at bloom was used to control the growth of four apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) cultivars in two orchard systems planted at half the recommended in-row spacing. Trunk cross-sectional area (TCA) per hectare on the trellis system was 30% higher, a result that correlated (r = 0.80) to a 40% higher cumulative yield per hectare over 10 years compared to the central leader system. Over 10 years, the cumulative yield and TCA per hectare of `Smoothee Golden Delicious', `Empire', and `Redchief Delicious' were higher in the trellis than the central leader system, while these characteristics of `Lawspur Rome Beauty' were not influenced by orchard system. `Lawspur' had the highest TCA per hectare, cumulative yield per hectare, and greatest tendency toward biennial bearing of the four cultivars. Root pruning reduced all tree-size measurements, while hedging did not influence tree height or average shoot length. Yield and yield per TCA were reduced by hedging and root pruning, with the greatest reduction in yield caused by root pruning. Hedging increased cumulative yield per hectare with root-pruned trees intermediate between hedged standard-spaced trees. Trellis trees had a higher density of spurs and shoots and a higher leaf area index than trees on the central leader system. An evaluation of the treatment combinations using net present value analysis indicated that none of the treatments was a profitable investment. Of the top twelve treatments, as evaluated for 10 years, nine were the central leader and three the trellis system, with none of the trellis and only four of the central leader treatments being hedged or root-pruned. Results of this study indicate that orchard intensification is accomplished best by choosing appropriate planting distances and not by attempting to control growth mechanically on trees planted too close for optimum performance.

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Peter M Hirst and David C Ferree

Floral development was studied in buds of `Starkspur Supreme Delicious' apple trees growing on B.9, M.26 EMLA, M.7 EMLA, P.18, and seedling rootstocks. In each of 3 years, buds were sampled from the previous years growth at intervals throughout the growing season and dissected to determine whether the apex was domed, indicating the start of floral development. Number of bud scales and true leaves increased during the early part of the growing season, but remained fairly constant beyond 70 days after full bloom. The type of rootstock did not affect the number of bud scales or transition leaves, and effects on true leaf numbers were small and inconsistent. Final bract number per floral bud was similarly unaffected by rootstock. The proportion of buds in which flowers were formed was influenced by rootstock in only one year of the study, which was characterized by high temperatures and low rainfall over the period of flower formation. Bracts were observed only in floral buds, and became visible after doming of bud apices had occurred. Flowers were formed during the first 20 days in August, regardless of rootstock or year. The appendage number of vegetative buds was constant from 70 days after full bloom until the end of the growing season, but the number of appendages in floral buds increased due to the continued production of bracts. The critical bud appendage number for `Starkspur Supreme Delicious' before flower formation was 20, and was stable among rootstocks and years. Buds with diameters above 3.1 mm were generally floral, but on this basis only 65% of buds could be correctly classified. Spur leaf number, spur leaf area, and spur leaf dry weight were not good predictors of floral formation within the spur bud.