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  • Author or Editor: Johané Botes x
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Under conditions of profuse flowering and excessive fruit set, citrus (Citrus sp.) fruit need to be thinned to increase the size of remaining fruit, reduce the intensity of alternate bearing, or both. Metamitron was recently developed as a chemical fruit-thinning agent for apple (Malus ×domestica) and pear (Pyrus communis), and it inhibits photosynthesis and is thought to transiently reduce the carbohydrate pool in fruit trees. Citrus trees are sensitive to carbohydrate stress during and immediately after flowering, but the response of citrus to foliar treatment with a photosynthesis inhibitor, such as metamitron, is unknown. The purpose of this study was to evaluate metamitron for its effects on leaf carbohydrates and its ability to chemically thin citrus fruitlets. Significant fruit-thinning effects were found in all the experiments conducted over two seasons. A 300 mg·L−1 metamitron treatment reduced leaf sugars and leaf total carbohydrates, and consistently reduced the total number of fruit per tree in both seasons in ‘Nadorcott’ mandarin (Citrus reticulata), irrespective of the timing of application. In the second season, a reduction in fruit yield was reported with an increase in metamitron concentration, both in mass and number of fruit per tree. A 150 mg·L−1 metamitron treatment in November had no fruit-thinning effects, and fruit yield was not different from the control. The application of metamitron did not increase the fruit size of ‘Nadorcott’ mandarin and had no direct effect on other fruit quality attributes in either season. Metamitron can be used as a chemical fruit-thinning agent to reduce fruit numbers in ‘Nadorcott’ mandarin, but an increase in fruit size or quality should not be expected.

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