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Jens N. Wünsche and Alan N. Lakso

The study evaluated the relationship of spur vs. extension shoot leaf area and light interception to apple (Malus {XtimesX} domesticaBorkh.) orchard productivity. Fifteen-year-old `Marshall McIntosh'/M.9 trees had significantly greater leaf area and percentage of light interception at 3-5 and 10-12 weeks after full bloom (AFB) than did 4-year-old `Jonagold'/Mark trees. Despite significant increases in leaf area and light interception with canopy development, linear relationships between total, spur, and extension shoot canopy leaf area index (LAI) and 1) light interception and 2) fruit yield were similar at both times. Mean total and spur canopy LAI and light interception were significantly and positively correlated with fruit yield; however, extension shoot LAI and light interception were poorly correlated with yield. In another study total, spur and extension shoot canopy light interception varied widely in five apple production systems: 15-year-old central leader `Redchief Delicious' MM.111, 15-year-old central leader `Redchief Delicious' MM.111/M.9, 16-year-old slender spindle `Marshall McIntosh' M.9, 14-year-old `Jerseymac' M.9 on 4-wire trellis, and 17-year-old slender spindle `MacSpur' M.9. Yields in these orchards were curvilinearly related to total and extension shoot canopy light interception and decreased when total light interception exceeded 60% and extension shoot interception exceeded 25%. Fruit yields were linearly and highly correlated (r 2 = 0.78) with spur light interception. The findings support the hypothesis that fruit yields of healthy apple orchards are better correlated with LAI and light interception by spurs than by extension shoots. The results emphasize the importance of open, well-illuminated, spur-rich tree canopies for high productivity.

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Jens N. Wünsche and John W. Palmer

A monitoring and control system for sequentially measuring whole-tree-canopy gas exchange of four apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) trees in the field is described. A portable, highly transparent, open-top whole-canopy cuvette was developed for complete enclosure of the above-ground portion of the tree. The flux of whole-canopy CO2 and H2 0 vapor was estimated from differential CO2 concentration and H2O-vapor partial pressure between ambient/reference air entering the cuvette and analysis air leaving the cuvette, as measured by infrared gas analysis. The bulk air-flow rate through the chamber was measured with a Pitot static tube inserted into the air-supply duct and connected to a differential pressure transducer. Performance of the whole-canopy cuvette system was tested for its suitability for gas-exchange measurements under field conditions. The air flow through the whole-canopy cuvette was 22000 L·min-1 (≈5.5 air exchanges/min) during the day, providing adequate air mixing within the cuvette, and 4000 L·min-1 (≈1 air exchange/min) during the night. Daily average leaf temperatures within the cuvette were 2-3 °C higher than to those on trees outside the cuvette. Photosynthetic photon flux transmitted through the chamber walls was at least 92 % of the incident ambient radiation. Moreover, the whole-canopy cuvette was evaluated without tree enclosure to determine the degree of “noise” in differential CO2 concentration and H2O-vapor partial pressure and was found to be acceptable with ΔCO2 ± 0.3 (μmol·mol-1 and ΔH2O ± 5 Pa. Whole-canopy carbon gas exchange and transpiration of four cropping `Braeburn'/M.26 apple trees followed closely incident radiation over the course of a day.

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Jens N. Wünsche, Alan N. Lakso and Terence L. Robinson

Four methods of estimating daily light interception (fisheye photography with image analysis, multiple-light sensors, ceptometer, and point grid) were compared using various apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) tree forms: slender spindle, Y- and T-trellises, and vertical palmette. Interactions of tree form, time of day, and atmospheric conditions with light interception estimates were examined. All methods were highly correlated to each other (r 2 > 0.92) for estimated daily mean percent total light interception by the various tree forms, except that the point grid method values were slightly lower. Interactions were found among tree form, time of day, and diffuse/direct radiation balance on estimated light interception, suggesting that several readings over the day are needed under clear skies, especially in upright canopies. The similar results obtained by using the point grid method (counting shaded/exposed points on a grid under the canopy) on clear days may allow rapid, simple, and inexpensive estimates of orchard light interception.

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Jens N. Wünsche, John W. Palmer and Dennis H. Greer

Effect of crop load on tree growth, leaf characteristics, photosynthesis, and fruit quality of 5-year-old `Braeburn' apple [Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill. var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf.] trees on Malling 26 (M.26) rootstock was examined during the 1994-95 growing season. Crop loads ranged from 0 to 57 kg/tree [0 to 1.6 kg fruit/cm2 trunk cross sectional area (TCA) or 0 to 8.7 fruit/cm2 TCA]. Fruit maturity as indicated by background color, starch/iodine score, and soluble solids was advanced significantly on low-cropping trees compared to high-cropping trees. Whole-canopy leaf area and percentage tree light interception increased linearly with a significant trend as crop load decreased. From midseason until fruit harvest, leaf photosynthesis decreased significantly on lighter cropping trees and similarly, a positive linear trend was found between whole-canopy gas exchange per unit area of leaf and crop load. Leaf starch concentration in midseason increased linearly as crop load decreased, providing some explanation for the increased down-regulation of photosynthesis on trees with lower crop loads. After fruit harvest, the previous crop loads had no effect on leaf photosynthesis and preharvest differences in whole-canopy gas exchange per unit area of leaf were less pronounced. At each measurement date, daily whole-canopy net carbon exchange and transpiration closely followed the diurnal pattern of incident photosynthetic photon flux. The photochemical yield and electron transport capacity depended on crop load. This was due mostly to reaction center closure before harvest and an increased nonphotochemical quenching after harvest.

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Jens N. Wünsche, Alan N. Lakso, Terence L Robinson, Fritz Lenz and Steven S. Denning

Although apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) system yield differences are generally related to whole-canopy light interception, this study tested the hypothesis that these orchard yields are related primarily to total light intercepted by the spur canopy. Seasonal leaf area development of different shoot types, exposed bourse shoot leaf net photosynthesis, fruit growth, whole canopy light interception (by image analysis of fisheye photographs) and relative light interception by different shoot types (by a laser assisted canopy scanning device) were estimated within four 14-year-old `Empire' apple production systems (slender spindle/M.9, central leader/M.7, central leader/M.9/MM.111 and Y-trellis/M.26). The final LAI values were CL/M.7 = 1.8, CL/9/111 = 2.3, SS/M.9 = 2.6 and Y/M.26 = 3.6. Exposed leaf net photosynthesis showed few differences and was not dependent upon the production system. Yields of the pyramidal shaped tree forms were 40 to 42 t·ha-1 while Y-trellis produced 59 t·ha-1, with similar fruit sizes. Again, yields were primarily related to the percentage of light intercepted by the whole canopy, 48% to 53% for conic forms versus 62% for the Y-trellis system. Laser analyses showed that the Y-trellis system intercepted about 20% to 30% more light with the spur canopy than the conic tree forms, supporting the hypothesis. Yields were better correlated with spur canopy LAI and spur canopy light interception than with extension shoot canopy LAI and light interception.

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Michael H. Hagemann, Malte G. Roemer, Julian Kofler, Martin Hegele and Jens N. Wünsche

Mango yields are frequently reduced by premature fruit drop, induced by plant stresses during the fruit set period in response to unsuitable climatic or crop management conditions. There are varying strategies for assessing premature fruit drop, which render the comparison and interpretation of published data difficult to draw general conclusions. Therefore, the objective was to provide a mathematical model that is generally valid for describing fruit losses of mango. The model was tested and validated by monitoring the fruit drop for the two local North Vietnamese cultivars, Hôi and Tròn, in different management systems over six consecutive growing seasons: 1) mango–maize intercropping and mango monocropping; 2) irrigation; and 3) plant growth regulator applications with 10 ppm N-(2-chloro-4-pyridyl)-N′-phenylurea (CPPU), 40 ppm 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA), and 40 ppm gibberellins (GA3 and GA4+7). The timely pattern of fruit drop was best described with a sigmoid function (r 2 = 0.85) and formed the basis for defining three distinct drop stages. The post-bloom drop, from full bloom to the maximum daily rate of fruit drop [FD(x)], had the highest fruit losses. The following midseason drop stage ends at 1% FD(x), a threshold that is suggested after a comprehensive literature review. Thereafter, during the preharvest drop stage, treatment and cultivar differences appear to remain constant despite continued fruit drop. In contrast to other mango intercropping studies, fruit loss was not greater in the mango–maize intercropping than in the mango monocropping. Irrigation resulted in approximately three times higher fruit retention compared with the non-irrigated control. A single application of NAA at marble fruit stage (BBCH-scale 701) resulted consistently in the highest fruit retention for both cultivars in midseason and at harvest. The model permits the separation between the drop stages, thus allowing the evaluation of 1) natural variation before treatment effects during post-bloom drop; 2) treatment efficacies during midseason drop; and 3) yield forecasting at the beginning of the preharvest stage.

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Jens-Norbert Wünsche, Alan N. Lakso, Steven S. Denning and Terence L. Robinson

A 14-year-old trial of `Empire' apple production systems (Slender Spindle/M9, Central Leaders on M7 and 9/111 interstems, and Y-trellis/M26) had shown significant yield differences that were primarily related to total light interception, but yield of fruit/MJ light interception, however, was still higher in the Y-trellis. The hypothesis tested was that in healthy orchards yields are related primarily tototal light intercepted by the spur canopy. In 1991 seasonal leaf area development, exposed leaf photosynthesis, fruit growth, total light interception (by image analysis of fisheye photos) and relative light interception by different shoot types (by a laser sunbeam simulator) were estimated. The results reflected the mature, spurry nature of these trees. The final LAI values were CL/7=1.8, CL/9/111=2.3, SS/9=2.6 and Y/26=3.6. Exposed leaf photosynthesis showed few differences. Yields of the pyramid forms were 40-42 t/ha while Y-trellis gave 59 t/ha, with similar fruit sizes. Again, yields were primarily related to % total light interception (48-53% for pyramid forms versus 62% for the Y). Laser analyses showed that the Y intercepted more light with the spur canopy than the pyramid forms, supporting the hypothesis. Yields were better correlated with spur canopy LAI and spur canopy light interception than with shoot canopy LAI and light interception.