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Arlie A. Powell, James Pitts and Robert Boozer

Early flowering of peach in the southeastern U.S. often results in some annual crop loss as a result of late winter–early spring freezes. It has been shown in peach and other prunus that a fall application of ethephon delays flowering 4 to 7 days and possibly affords increased bud hardiness. However, delayed harvest and smaller fruit size of certain varieties may occur. Hydrogen cyanamide replaces lack of chilling in peach, but can also advance harvest date and possibly enhance or maintain fruit size. A randomized complete-block experimental design was used to evaluate whether hydrogen cyanamide could offset the delayed harvest and smaller fruit size disadvantages of using ethephon without advancing bloom dates over a 3-year period. Treatment combinations of ethephon (at 20%, 50%, and 90% of required chilling) and hydrogen cyanamide (at 90% to 100% of required chilling) were applied as whole-tree foliar sprays to near point of drip. Results exhibited a possible trend toward hydrogen cyanamide overcoming smaller fruit size and delayed harvest.

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Arlie A. Powell, James Pitts and Bobby Boozer

Early flowering of peach in the southeastern United States can result in annual crop loss as a result of late winter-early spring freezes. In peach and other prunus, a fall application of ethephon delays flowering several days; however, delayed harvest and smaller fruit size of certain varieties may occur. Hydrogen cyanamide replaces the late stage of chilling in peach but can also advance bloom and harvest date while maintaing or enhancing fruit size. A randomized complete-block experimental design using 13-year old `Surecrop' trees was used to evaluate whether hydrogen cyanamide could offset the delayed harvest and smaller fruit size disadvantages of using ethephon without advancing bloom dates. Treatment combinations of ethephon (at 20%, 50%, and 90% of required chilling) and hydrogen cyanamide (at 90% to 100% of required chilling) were applied as whole-tree foliar sprays to near point of drip. Although not significant, there were trends toward hydrogen cyanamide overcoming both smaller fruit size and delayed harvest induced by ethephon. This agrees with an earlier study using `Redhaven'. Dormex negated the late flowering effects of ethephon applied at 20% chilling but did not cause flowering earlier than the control.

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Arlie A. Powell, James Pitts and Bobby Boozer

Early flowering of peach in the Southeast can result in annual crop loss as a result of late winter—early spring freezes. It has been shown in peach and other Prunus that a fall application of ethephon delays flowering several days. However, delayed harvest and smaller fruit size of certain varieties may occur. Hydrogen cyanamide replaces lack of chilling in peach but can also advance harvest date and possibly enhance or maintain fruit size. A randomized complete-block experimental design using 12-year-old `Redhaven' trees was used to evaluate whether hydrogen cyanamide could offset the delayed harvest and smaller fruit size disadvantages of using ethephon without advancing bloom dates. Treatment combinations of ethephon (at 20%, 50%, and 90% of required chilling) and hydrogen cyanamide (at 90% to 100% of required chilling) were applied as whole-tree foliar sprays to near point of drip. Although nonsignificant, there were trends toward hydrogen cyanamide overcoming both smaller fruit size and delayed harvest induced by ethephon.

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Robert T. Boozer, Robert C. Ebel and James A. Pitts

A Phil Brown Corporation, hydraulic operated rope thinner was evaluated in 1995 and 1997 to determine performance for bloom thinning under Alabama peach growing conditions. Using detailed pruned trees in 1995, the rope thinner removed 55% and 57% of the blooms from two double pass treatments and 42% from single pass. Thinning was 9% to 31% higher in the upper one-half of the fruiting zone. In 1997, nondetail pruned trees were used and ground speed was evaluated. Percent blooms removed by single pass were 28, 23, and 22 for 1.6, 3.2, and 4.8 km·h-1, respectively. Double pass clockwise removed 38% of the blooms at 3.2 km·h-1. Greatest time saving for follow-up hand thinning was 15 minutes per tree with double pass over hand-thinned only.

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Arlie A. Powell, Robert T. Boozer and James A. Pitts

Phenological studies were conducted over a 3-year period beginning in Winter 1993–94 to relate flowering and fruiting stages of peach to heat accumulation [growing degree hours (GDH)]. Mature trees of `Loring' and `Redhaven' peach in the same orchard were used annually. Some variation from year to year was apparent in GDH levels related to 50% flower and other stages of development. Major sources for this variation appear to be timing and severity of pruning, tree vigor, and shoot diameter. Temperature predict models were used successfully to properly forecast GDH accumulation and and various flowering and fruiting stages once rest was satisfied.

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Thomas G. Beckman, Philip A. Rollins, James Pitts, Dario J. Chavez and Jose X. Chaparro

The primary focus of the stone fruit rootstock program at Byron, GA, has been the development of disease-resistant rootstocks for peach (Prunus persica L. Batsch). Historically peach tree short life (PTSL), aka bacterial canker complex, and Armillaria root rot (ARR) have been the two most important causes of premature mortality of commercial peach trees in the southeastern United States. Guardian®, a seedling peach rootstock, was cooperatively released in 1993 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Clemson University. It has since been widely adopted by the southeastern peach industry. As a result, trees losses to PTSL have declined sharply. However, Guardian, like most other peach seedling rootstocks, is susceptible to ARR. ARR has now moved to the forefront as the primary cause of premature peach tree death in the Southeast. In response to this threat, the USDA-ARS in cooperation with the University of Florida, released ‘Sharpe’, a plum hybrid rootstock in 2007. Despite its broad disease resistance, ‘Sharpe’ proved unsuited for widespread commercial utilization due to its relatively poor cropping performance. In 2011, ‘MP-29’, a semidwarf, clonal, plum × peach hybrid, was released for commercial trial. ‘MP-29’s broad disease and nematode resistance, in combination with its dwarfing ability and excellent productivity, offered great promise for use in this production area and in others suffering from similar issues. Since its release, testing of ‘MP-29’ has continued both in researcher and grower trials. To date, performance has exceeded all expectations.

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Ashley K. Brantley, James D. Spiers, Andrew B. Thompson, James A. Pitts, J. Raymond Kessler Jr., Amy N. Wright and Elina D. Coneva

Commercial kiwifruit production often requires substantial inputs for successful pollination. Determining the length of time that female flowers can be successfully pollinated can aid management decisions concerning pollination enhancement. The purpose of this research was to determine the effective pollination period (EPP) for ‘AU Golden Sunshine’ and ‘AU Fitzgerald’. Either 30 (2013) or 32 (2014, 2015) flowers of ‘AU Golden Sunshine’ were hand pollinated each day for 1 to 5 (2013) days after anthesis (DAA) or 1 to 7 DAA (2014, 2015), and then isolated to prevent open pollination. Anthesis was considered the day the flower opened. Similarly, ‘AU Fitzgerald’ flowers were pollinated and then isolated 1 to 6 DAA in 2013 and 1 to 7 DAA in 2015. For ‘AU Golden Sunshine’ in 2013, fruit set was consistent over the 5-day period, but fruit weight, fruit size index, and seed number decreased between 1 and 3 and 4 and 5 DAA. In 2014, fruit set decreased between 1 and 6 and 7 DAA, whereas fruit weight, fruit size index, and seed number each decreased in a linear trend. In 2015, fruit set also decreased between 1 and 6 and 7 DAA, whereas all other responses decreased linearly. Based on fruit set in 2014 and 2015, the EPP for ‘AU Golden Sunshine’ was 6 DAA. The EPP for ‘AU Fitzgerald’, however, was more variable. In 2013, fruit weight, fruit size index and seed number decreased between 1 and 4 and 5 and 6 DAA, suggesting that the EPP was 4 DAA. In 2015, fruit set remained consistent over the 7-day period with fruit weight, fruit size index, and seed number decreasing linearly. Differences in temperature and the alternate bearing tendency of kiwifruit species likely contributed to the discrepancies between the years for the EPP. For each cultivar, reductions in fruit weight, size, and seed number were observed before an observed decrease in fruit set. Greater fruit weight, size, and seed number were observed when flowers were pollinated within the first few DAA, with results varying thereafter.

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Esmaeil Fallahi, Bahar Fallahi, James R. McFerson, Ross E. Byers, Robert C. Ebel, Robert T. Boozer, Jim Pitts and Bryan S. Wilkins

Effects of Tergitol-TMN-6 surfactant on blossom thinning (fruit set), fruit quality, and yield were studied in different cultivars of peach (Prunus persica [L.] Batsch) during 2003 to 2005, and in one cultivar of nectarine Prunus persica [L.] in one orchard and one cultivar of plum (Prunus domestica [L.]) in two orchards in 2004. In addition to Tergitol-TMN-6, effects of Crocker's fish oil (CFO) alone in three peach cultivars or in combination with lime sulfur in a nectarine cultivar were studied on fruit set, quality, and yield. Tergitol-TMN-6 at 5 mL·L–1 or higher rates, applied at about 75% to 85% bloom, reduced fruit set without russeting peach fruit. Peach fruit size was often increased by Tergitol-TMN-6 treatment. Applications of Tergitol at 20 mL·L–1 or 30 mL·L–1 excessively thinned peaches. Tergitol-TMN-6 at all rates burned foliage, but the symptoms disappeared after a few weeks without any adverse effects on tree productivity. Tergitol-TMN-6 at 7.5 mL·L–1 or 10 mL·L–1, applied either once at about 80% to 85% bloom or twice at 35% bloom and again at 80% to 85% bloom, reduced fruit set without any fruit russeting in nectarine. Tergitol-TMN-6 at 7.5 mL·L–1 to 12.5 mL·L–1 reduced fruit set in `Empress' plum. CFO at 30 mL·L–1 was effective in blossom thinning of some peach cultivars. A combination of lime sulfur and CFO was not effective in blossom thinning of nectarine. Considering results from several orchards in different locations in the Pacific Northwest over 3 years, Tergitol-TMN-6 is an excellent blossom thinner for peach, nectarine, and plum at rates of 7.5 to 12.5 mL·L–1, sprayed at a spray volume of 1870.8 L·ha–1 when about 75% to 85% blooms are open.

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Floyd M. Woods*, William A. Dozier Jr., Robert C. Ebel, David G. Himelrick, Cecilia Mosjidis, Raymond H. Thomas, Bryan S. Wilkins and James A. Pitts

The relationship between fruit maturation and accumulation of hydrogen peroxide (H2 O2), lipid peroxidation, ethylene (C2 H4) production, antioxidant activity (hydrophilic, lipophilic and total) and the antioxidant enzyme ascorbate peroxidase (APX, EC 1.11.1.11) in fruit pericarp tissue of `Chandler' (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) strawberry were measured. `Chandler' fruit pericarp maturation and ripening were accompanied by a decline in H2 O2 content early in fruit development followed by a rapid accumulation. An increase in membrane lipid peroxidation (thiobarbituric acid reactive substances, TBARS) coincided with accumulation of H2 O2, which preceded a rise in C2 H4 production. In general, antioxidant activity declined as fruit matured and ripened. APX enzyme activity increased by 2-fold and peaked at the pink stage of development and then gradually declined with ripening. H2 O2 may serve as a signal molecule to initiate the cascade of oxidative processes during maturation and ripening. APX enzyme activity during maturation and ripening was not substantial and thus, may not have a role in alleviating accumulation of H2 O2 and subsequent events related to oxidative senescence in fruit pericarp. To our knowledge, this is the first study to present fractionated antioxidant activities (HAA, LAA and TAA) from strawberry pericarp as assessed by the ABTS∼+ radical cation assay. A fundamental understanding of the mechanisms involved in the senescent related-oxidative changes during strawberry fruit ontogeny in relation to quality and nutrition is discussed.