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The purpose of this research was to determine the effectiveness of three blossom-thinning compounds on crop density and fruit quality of two peach cultivars. Treatments consisted of 15 ml·L–1 and 30 ml·L–1 ammonium thiosulphate, 30 ml·L–1 and 40 ml·L–1 decyl alcohol, and 40 ml·L–1 lime sulfur. Treatments were applied to `Redhaven' and `Harrow Diamond' peach trees at two phenological stages: 80%, and 100% full bloom in 2002 and 2003. In both years, treatments reduced the crop density in both cultivars, and in 2003 the amount of hand thinning required to adjust the crop load was significantly reduced. Fruit size from several blossom-thinned treatments was comparable with that observed from hand-thinned trees. However, treatments caused significant leaf phytotoxicity to `Harrow Diamond' trees in 2003, likely a result of hand spray gun applications. These data indicate that chemical sprays at bloom can be used successfully to reduce fruit set, but are very environmentally, dose, and cultivar dependent.

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Adjusting the crop load of peaches [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] by hand thinning is currently required to ensure marketable size of most cultivars grown in Ontario. A novel approach to adjust cropping by inhibiting flowering using gibberellic acid (GA3) was tested in an orchard experiment in which GA3 was applied at 7, 10, and 13 weeks after full bloom to mature `Redhaven' peach trees. Late GA3 treatments increased soluble solids concentration (SSC) in the season of application. A significant interaction between GA3 rate and time of application was observed on increased fruit firmness in the current season. Increasing rates of GA3 decreased flowering the following season in a quadratic fashion, resulting in a 41% to 90% diminished requirement for hand thinning. This translated into lower crop loads and yields for GA3-treated trees at harvest compared with untreated control trees. However, GA3-treated trees had larger mean fruit size and improved fruit size distribution the year after GA3 application. Advanced fruit ripening was also evident by increased fruit SSC and decreased fruit firmness, likely an indirect effect of GA3 on crop load. GA3 application timing significantly increased overall tree growth measured by the changes in trunk cross-sectional area.

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Insufficient biologically available nitrogen (N) for yeast is a persistent issue facing cidermakers, whose apple juice base usually does not provide adequate nutrition for a complete fermentation. Cidermakers often supplement their juice with additional yeast assimilable nitrogen (YAN) in the cellar to aid fermentation. The development of biologically available N in apple juice is not well understood. In this study, juice samples from ‘Crimson Crisp®’ apples were taken at several sampling dates in the 2016, 2017, and 2018 growing seasons and analyzed for YAN using formol titration and high-performance liquid chromatography. It was observed that while the total YAN concentration in these apples drops from the period shortly after fruit set to the end of summer, YAN remains stable from several weeks before harvest until the date of harvest. The total YAN did not change after a 6-week postharvest storage period. By contrast, the individual amino acid components of YAN do change during this period. This experiment shows that foliar urea sprays in ‘Crimson Crisp®’ produce an increase in organic N in the juice, mostly in the form of asparagine. Increased organic N impacts yeast growth and sensory characteristics of cider and may be seen as desirable by cider producers.

Open Access

Individual fruit of `Delicious' apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) were exposed to low, high, or ambient relative humidity (RH) levels during different stages of fruit development to study the importance of transpiration and the xylem system in supplying Ca to fruit. The Ca content of fruit exposed to low RH was the same or higher than that of fruit exposed to high RH. Treatments imposed early or late in the season usually affected fruit Ca levels similarly. Fruit weight was not consistently affected by RH treatments. The xylem may be a significant source of fruit Ca throughout the season.

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To determine the effect of blossom and fruitlet thinners on crop load, fruit weight, seed development during the year of treatment, and the subsequent year effect on return bloom, fruit weight and yield, a field trial using the biennial apple cultivar `Northern Spy' (Malus × domestica Borkh.) was established. Treatments applied at full bloom included ATS (ammonium thiosulphate) [12% (w/v) nitrogen, 26% (w/v) S]; TD [15.9% (w/v) diacarboxylic acid, 5.5% (w/v) dimethylalkylamine salt (Endothal)] and SCY [57% (w/v) pelargonic acid (Scythe)]. At 18 days after full bloom (DAFB), oil treatments [98% (w/v) mineral oil (Superior “70” oil)] were applied with S [480 g·L-1 a.i. carbaryl (Sevin XLR)] and without as a means of increasing the efficacy of S. BA [19 g·L-1 a.i. 6-benzyladenine/1.9 g·L-1 a.i. gibberellins 4+7 (Accel)]; S; and/or SA [100% (w/w) 2-hydroxybenzoic acid (salicylic acid)], were also applied in a factorial arrangement on the same day. Fruit abscission was significantly increased the year of treatment with BA, S, BA + S, BA + SA, S + SA, BA + S + SA, oil, and S + oil. Average fruit weight was enhanced by S, BA + S, BA + SA, S + SA, BA + S + SA, and S + oil although in the latter treatment the crop load was very low. Only treatments that included BA reduced the number of fully developed seeds per fruit and seed number per trunk cross-sectional area (TCA) and increased return bloom. Defining the number of fully developed seeds per tree coupled with crop load is proposed as a predictor of return bloom in `Northern Spy'.

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Fertigated ‘Gala’ apple trees on M.9 (Malus domestica Borkh.) rootstock, planted in 1998, were grown on a coarse soil for 6 years (1998 to 2003) and exposed to eight orchard floor vegetation management treatments within the tree row. These consisted of a glyphosate control; three waste paper mulch treatments [spray-on mulch paper mulch (SM), SM incorporated with dichlobenil, SM applied over uniformly spread shredded office paper (SOP)]; and four living cover crop mulch treatments [dwarf white clover (WC), sweet clover (SC), hairy vetch (HV), and annual rye]. There were no significant treatment effects on leaf nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) status; however, leaf potassium (K) levels were negatively affected by the living mulch treatments in 2 of 5 years. Tree vigor was diminished by several of the orchard floor vegetation management systems in 5 of 6 years. Trees receiving an SM treatment grew more rapidly than trees receiving the ground cover treatments and trees receiving a glyphosate treatment had relatively poor but comparable growth to several of the cover crop treatments. Growth response in trees receiving SM were observed in all production years. After 6 years, cumulative yields were highest from trees receiving any of the three SM or glyphosate treatments and significantly less for any of the ground cover treatments. Weed growth within the rye cover crop was significantly reduced in comparison with the other living mulches; however, it remained sufficiently competitive to contribute to diminished overall yield and tree growth in comparison with the SM and gylphosate control treatments. Overall, response of leaf K concentration to mulch treatments was insufficient to prevent low K levels after 5 years. The addition of K through the organic mulches or recycling of K by cover crops was insufficient to avoid the development of low leaf K levels. Annual fertigation of K, in addition to N and P, appears necessary to maintain adequate vigor and yield when using mulches or cover crops in intensive, drip-irrigated apple orchards grown on coarse soils.

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Use of and interest in organic mulches for both integrated fruit production (IFP) and organic fruit production is increasing given recent efforts to reduce pesticide inputs and improve soil health. A series of four experiments was conducted in the southern interior of British Columbia over 5 years to investigate the use of a spray-on-mulch (SOM) slurry, comprised primarily of recycled waste newsprint fiber, as an effective method to control excessive weed competition and enhance tree establishment and performance. In four experiments, ‘Gala’, ‘Granny Smith’, ‘Ambrosia’, and ‘Honeycrisp’ apple (Malus ×domestica) trees on ‘Malling 9’ (‘M.9’) rootstock were exposed to a series of treatments including a glyphosate check, SOM waste paper, SOM over an organic underlay, SOM incorporated with dichlobenil or tackifier, SOM over black landscape fabric, rowcover cloth, or polyethylene plastic. SOM provided superior weed control in comparison with the glyphosate check treatment, a standard orchard practice in many modern orchards in North America. SOM application over compost, paper, and especially over cloth barriers were found to be more effective weed barriers than SOM alone. In comparison with glyphosate checks, SOM improved tree growth during tree establishment. Although the addition of dichlobenil provided season-long weed control, tree growth was diminished in comparison with SOM alone and remained similar to that of the glyphosate checks. There was little or no benefit of including a 2.5% tacking agent to help improve SOM integrity and long-term surface stability. When applied to bearing 4-year-old trees, SOM provided similar tree vigor as glyphosate checks over four growing seasons. The addition of landscape fabric, plastic, or cloth underlay material in combination with SOM improved tree vigor in formative years, but this benefit diminished over time. SOM-treated trees had greater cumulative yields over glyphosate checks after 3 years of production. SOM provided significant temperature moderation during the summer and winter months and provided moisture conservation during the summer. There were few SOM effects on plant nutrient status.

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To identify genotypes of apple (Malus ×domestica) rootstock with vulnerability to low temperature, we measured the low temperature tolerance of xylem, phloem and cambium in 2-year-old shoot pieces from cultivars Budagovsky 9 (B.9), M.7 EMLA (M.7), M.9 EMLA (M.9), Geneva® 41 (G.41), Geneva 30 (G.30), Geneva 214 (G.214), Geneva 814 (G.814), and Geneva 935 (G.935), as well as six advanced selections in the Geneva (G.) series and three in the Vineland (V.) series. From Oct. 2013 to Apr. 2014, injury was measured as a 0–10 rating based on percentage of discolored cross-sectional xylem and phloem, and cambial length and circumference with brown discoloration, with 0 indicating no browning and 10 indicating browning in the entire tissue. From Oct. 2014 to Apr. 2015, injury was measured as xylem, phloem and cambium browning using a similar rating scale that accounted for both the percentage of browned tissues and the intensity of browning. Following exposure to −35 to −40 °C, many genotypes, including ‘M.7’, ‘M.9’, ‘G.935’, G.4011, G.4292, G.5087, and V.5, had only partial xylem injury in the fall, whereas others, ‘M.7’, ‘G.41’, ‘G.214’, and G.4011, had more extensive xylem browning at −30 °C and colder. ‘G.30’ had moderate to severe xylem browning at −15 to −19 °C. In late October of both years, G.4013 exhibited severe phloem browning at relatively high temperatures, but accrued additional hardiness by Nov. 2014, whereas genotypes ‘B.9’, ‘M.9’, ‘G.30’, and ‘G.41’ developed considerable phloem hardiness by late October with no additional increase in hardiness in November. Geneva and Vineland genotypes exhibited a low degree of susceptibility to injury at −35 to −40 °C in Jan. 2014 and Mar. 2015. Shoot hardiness in Apr. 2014 and 2015 was highly variable between the 2 years, with severe browning of xylem and cambium at −40 °C in every genotype sampled in Apr. 2014, but not in Apr. 2015. ‘M.9’ and G.3902 appeared to be the least vulnerable to injury in April, whereas ‘G.30’, ‘G.41’, ‘G.814’, G.4292, and G.5257 seem more likely to suffer injury in spring. ‘G.30’ had tender xylem in both fall and spring, G.4013 had the least hardy cambium and phloem in fall, and G.5257 the least hardy cambium in the spring. These genotypes are vulnerable to damaging temperatures during fall acclimation and spring deacclimation.

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The influence of rootstock on average fruit weight was evaluated for a subset of data from a multilocation NC-140 apple [Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill. var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf.] rootstock trial. Data for eight dwarf rootstocks were collected at four locations for 2 years. Analysis of covariance was used to evaluate the effect of rootstock on average fruit weight when crop density or number of fruit per tree was included in the linear model as a covariate. When number of fruit harvested per tree was used as a covariate, average fruit weight was not affected by rootstock in either year in Ontario. In Michigan and Virginia, rootstock and number of fruit per tree, but not the rootstock × number of fruit interaction, were significant, so common slopes models were used to estimate least squares means for average fruit weight. In general, trees on M.27 and P.1 produced the smallest fruit, and trees on B.9, M.9 EMLA, and Mac.39 produced the largest fruit. In New York the interaction of rootstock × number of fruit was significant, so least squares means were estimated at three levels of number of fruit per tree. Both years, at all levels of number of fruit, trees on M.26 EMLA produced the smallest fruit and trees on M.27 EMLA produced the largest fruit. Average fruit weight was most affected by number of fruit per tree when Mark was the rootstock. In general, results were similar when crop density was used as the covariate, except that trees on M.27 EMLA did not produce small fruit in Michigan and Ontario.

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Organic methods for managing striped cucumber beetles (Acalymma vittatum) and spotted (Diabrotica undecimpunctata) cucumber beetles were examined in the production of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) and muskmelon (Cucumis melo) using sticky traps to monitor beetle populations. In 2002, the numbers of trapped striped and total (striped + spotted) cucumber beetles were significantly (P ≤ 0.05) reduced by the combined use of three companion plants thought to repel cucumber beetles [radish (Raphanus sativus), tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), and nasturtium (Tropaeolum spp.)] or by the combined use of three companion plants known to attract beneficial insects [buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum), cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata), and sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis)]. In 2003 and 2004, the single companion plant treatment consisted of the combined use of radish and buckwheat. In 2003, use of aluminum-coated plastic mulch (Al-plastic) or companion plants significantly increased muskmelon yields and vine cover, while significantly reducing numbers of trapped striped, spotted, and total cucumber beetles. The use of pyrethrin insecticide did not significantly affect muskmelon yields or vine cover. In 2004, the beneficial effects of companion plant and Al-plastic treatments on muskmelon yields and vine cover were also significant and similar to those in 2003; however, these treatments only affected early season numbers of trapped beetles. The use of rowcovers significantly increased muskmelon yields and vine cover in 2003 and 2004 and did not affect beetle populations after rowcover removal. It was concluded that use of companion plants and Al-plastic increased muskmelon yields and vine cover while reducing populations of cucumber beetles, particularly striped cucumber beetles. The use of rowcovers also increased muskmelon yields and vine cover.

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