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F.G. Dennis Jr.

In 1994, benzyladenine (BA, formulated as Accel, containing 1.8% BA and 0.18% GA4+7) was evaluated as an apple fruit-thinning agent. Naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA, 10 ppm) and carbaryl (60 g·liter–1) were also used, as well as combinations of these chemicals with BA. Whole trees were treated with either an airblast sprayer or a hand gun, BA being used at 15–20 g/acre. Good responses to BA were obtained in one of two trials, with both `Empire' and `Gala', but `Jonagold' and `Jonathan' were not responsive (one trial each). In general, response to NAA and carbaryl was more consistent. In only one orchard (`Gala') did BA appear to increase fruit size without reducing crop load. Combinations of BA with NAA or carbaryl were generally no more effective than one chemical alone, but such combinations overthinned in one experiment with `Empire'.

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F.G. Dennis Jr. and Jerome Hull Jr.

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Jocelyn A. Ozga and F.G. Dennis Jr.

Exposure of stratified apple (Malus domestics Borkh. cv. Golden Delicious) seeds to 30C induces secondary dormancy. To determine if an increase in abscisic acid (ABA) content was associated with the loss in germination capacity, stratified seeds (3,- 6, or 9 weeks at 5C) were held at 30C for 0, 3, or 6 days. Stratification at 5C either had no effect or increased ABA content in embryonic axes, cotyledons, and seed coats. Exposure to 30C after stratification either did not affect or decreased ABA content of embryonic axes and seed coats; in contrast, cotyledonary ABA was increased. Seed coats, cotyledons, and embryonic axes stratified for 3, 6, or 9 weeks at 20C contained the same or higher levels of ABA in comparison with nonstratified seeds or seeds stratified at SC. Changes in ABA levels were not consistently correlated with changes in germination capacity during stratification or after exposure to 30C. These data suggest that changes in ABA are not related to changes in dormancy. Chemical names used: abscisic acid (ABA); butylated hydroxy-toluene (BHT); n-(trichloromethyl) thio-4-cyclohexene-1,2-dicarboximide(Captan).

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C.K. Wan and F.G. Dennis Jr.

The roles of inhibitors in the seedcoat and locules and of seed water content in fruit-induced dormancy of apple (Malus domestics Borkh.) seeds were investigated. Seeds were after-ripened at 5C for various periods up to 12 weeks: 1) in the locules of intact fruits or half-fruits, 2) on wire mesh over moist filter paper, which simulated the locule in preventing leaching, or 3) on moist filter paper. The seeds were subsequently germinated in the locules of half-fruits, on screen, or on moist paper. In some experiments, the seeds were soaked in distilled water before or after after-ripening, or the embryos were excised before germination. The results indicate that fruit volatiles are unlikely to inhibit germination of seeds after-ripened in the fruit. Although limited water content reduced the ability of the seeds to germinate, it did not prevent after-ripening. An unidentified inhibitor(s) present in the locule and on the surface of the seed appears to be the major factor(s) preventing germination in the fruit, as seeds after-ripened on moist paper germinated well on paper or screen but poorly in the locule. The inhibitor(s) appears to be metabolized or to break down spontaneously when seeds are after-ripened on a screen, suggesting that the locule serves as a reservoir of the inhibitor as long as the seed remains in the fruit.

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F.G. Dennis Jr., J.G. Masabni and D.O. Ketchie

A cooperative experiment begun in 1980 was designed to evaluate the productivity and other characteristics of 16 spur and 12 standard strains of `Delicious' apple on two rootstocks (M.7 EMLA and MM.111 EMLA). All trees were propagated at one nursery, and plantings were established in Michigan, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Indiana, and British Columbia. In Michigan, trees of standard strains were consistently larger than trees of spur strains 8 years after planting. Early yields were greater on M.7 EMLA than on MM.111 EMLA, but trees were more subject to leaning under heavy crops on M.7 EMLA. In general, spur-type strains yielded more fruit per unit trunk cross-sectional area than standard strains. Yield was more closely associated with fruit-setting ability than with flower density, and fruit size declined as fruit set increased. Length/diameter ratios and biennial bearing indices also differed significantly among strains.

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Mario Mandujano, F.G. Dennis Jr., D.E. Guyer, E. Timm and G.K. Brown

Michigan growers often have severe problems with soft `Montmorency' sour cherries. Causal factors may include weather conditions, orchard practices, harvesting methods, and conditions during hold of fruits prior to processing. In this study, efforts were concentrated on orchard practices, including shading to reduce solar radiation, irrigation, nutrient level, and application of growth regulators, especially ethephon and gibberellin. Fruit firmness decreased as maturity approached, then stabilized. Significant fruit softening occurred only during mechanical harvesting. No treatments, including sprays of calcium and potassium, consistently increased firmness, but firmness was reduced in 1993 by spraying with ethephon. Firmness varied among orchards, but no “soft” fruit, as defined by industry standards, were observed in harvested fruit. Softening appeared to be caused by excessive bruising, and was always associated with mechanical damage. Advanced maturity and heavy cropping appear to predispose the cherries to greater bruise damage.