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  • Author or Editor: Linda Herbert x
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A randomized complete block, split-plot experiment with six replicates was established and maintained for the first six fruiting seasons (1999 to 2004) in a high-density apple [Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf.] orchard on M.9 rootstock planted in Apr. 1998. This report assesses responses to six main-plot fertigation treatments, each containing three tree subplots of five different cultivars (Ambrosia, Cameo, Fuji, Gala, and Silken). Fertigation treatments were a factorial combination of two nitrogen (N) rates and three N application timings. N was applied at low (28 mg N/L) or high (168 mg N/L) concentrations daily at 0 to 4, 4 to 8, or 8 to 12 weeks after full bloom (wafb). Under greater N inputs, all cultivars had increased midsummer leaf and harvested fruit N concentrations, decreased fruit firmness, and in heavy crop years, decreased percent red color. Annual yield of all cultivars was significantly increased by N rate in a single year, but their cumulative yields were not different between treatments as a result of rate or timing. Altering the timing of N application within 12 wafb only affected leaf and fruit tissue N concentration. Leaf N was higher after 4 weeks of fertigation any time, although concentrations declined over the growing season, reaching minimum values around harvest. Fruit N was increased by fertigation 4 to 12 wafb. Yield, fruit firmness, and color were unaffected by fertigation timing. Critical fruit quality issues for ‘Gala’ and ‘Silken’ were small fruit size, for Ambrosia low fruit numbers, and for ‘Cameo’ soft fruit. ‘Fuji’, which achieved high yield and leaf N concentration and firm fruit, had poor red color regardless of N treatments.

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A randomized, complete block, split-plot experimental design with six replicates was established and maintained annually for the first five fruiting seasons (1999 to 2003) in a high-density apple [Malus sylvestris (L) Mill var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf] orchard on M.9 rootstock planted in Apr. 1998. Main plot treatments involved eight different nutrient regimes, each containing three tree subplots of each of five different cultivars (Ambrosia, Cameo, Fuji, Gala, and Silken). This report compares a +phosphorus (P) treatment, involving annual fertigation at bloom time of 20 g P/tree as ammonium polyphosphate (10N–15P–0K), to a −P treatment. Both treatments also received nitrogen, potassium, and boron nutrients through fertigation. Drip fertigation of P increased 2 M KCl-extractable P to 0.4-m depth within 0.5-m distance of the drippers. Leaf and fruit P concentrations were consistently increased by the +P treatment with few differences among cultivars. P-fertigated trees also had a 20% increase in cumulative yield overall cultivars during the first five fruiting seasons. Standard fruit quality measurements, including fruit size, soluble solids concentration, titratable acidity, and red coloration were unaffected by P application. However, reductions in incidence of water core at harvest, increased resistance to browning, and elevated antioxidant content of harvested fruit measured in some years imply a role for P in apple membrane stability. The cumulative results indicate that applications of 20 g P as ammonium polyphosphate annually at bloom would be advantageous for apples receiving adequate fertigated applications of nitrogen, potassium, and boron. Best apple performance was associated with leaf P concentrations above 2.2 mg·g−1 dry weight and fruit P concentrations between 100 and 120 mg·kg−1 dry weight.

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Cristalina and Skeena sweet cherry cultivars (Prunus avium L.) on Gisela 6 (Prunus cerasus × Prunus canescens) rootstock were maintained for the first four growing seasons in a randomized, replicated split-split plot experimental design with two main plot irrigation frequency treatments, the two cultivars as subplots and three soil management subsubplot treatments. The same amount of irrigation water was applied through four drip emitters per tree at either high (I1, four times daily) or low frequency (I2, once every second day) beginning in the second year. Three different soil management treatments were established the year of planting and included: 1) NK fertigation with a herbicide strip (control), or additionally; 2) maintenance of a 10-cm thick bark mulch over the herbicide strip; and 3) annual fertigation of 20 g phosphorus (P) per tree per year immediately after bloom. I1 irrigation increased soil moisture (0- to 20-cm depth) throughout each growing season. The I1 irrigation resulted in higher leaf and fruit concentrations of the immobile nutrients P and potassium (K) and larger trunk cross-sectional area than I2 trees. I1 irrigation, in general, did not affect initial yield or fruit size. Fruit from I2 irrigation had higher soluble solids concentration (SSC), color, and total phenolic concentration at harvest in 2008 and lower titratable acidity (TA), firmness, and stem pull force suggesting an acceleration of fruit maturity. When compared with the control soil management treatment, P fertigation resulted in leaves and fruit with higher P concentrations, a higher 2008 crop yield, and a delay in 2008 crop maturity as indicated by lower harvest color and SSC and higher stem pull force. Mulch application, relative to control treatments, resulted in trees with higher vigor (but only with I1 irrigation) and leaf K concentration and had few effects on initial fruit yield or quality. There were important differences in cultivar responses to treatments. ‘Cristalina’ vigor was lower than ‘Skeena’ whose fruit had lower firmness and pedicel retention than ‘Cristalina’.

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