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  • Author or Editor: Michael Newell x
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Excessive vegetative growth in peach (Prunus persica) causes canopy shading that reduces fruit bud initiation in the canopy interior and increases pruning costs and time. Sod competition can reduce pruning but may also reduce yield. The objective of the present study was to measure the effects of increased sod competition [2- vs. 8-ft-wide vegetation-free areas (VFA)] on yield and quality of irrigated peach. Total pruning weight was reduced by sod competition in the first 4 of 7 cropping years. Subsequent years indicated no effect on vegetative growth due to sod competition. Annual increase in trunk cross-sectional area was reduced by sod competition in the first year of cropping and unaffected in subsequent years. Canopy development was reduced by sod competition in the first 2 years of cropping, which increased photosynthetically active radiation transmission through the canopy and increased fruit red color in the first year. The width of the VFA did not alter the relationship between total fruit number and total yield in any year; however, the total number of fruit per tree was reduced in all years and total yield was reduced in 6 of 7 years. Results suggest that dormant season pruning was removing a higher percentage of the crop bearing wood from the 2-ft VFA compared with the 8-ft VFA treatment, resulting in reduced yield per unit of dormant pruning. This indicates that pruning practices must be modified to leave more bearing wood in mature trees to maintain yield potential when sod competition is used to control vegetative growth.

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Production of european pears (Pyrus communis L.) in the eastern United States is limited by a number of physiological and pathological problems. In an attempt to expand sustainable pear production in that region, a series of long-term field trials of asian pear [Pyrus pyrifolia (Burm. F) Nak. (syn. Pyrus serotina L.)] were established at two sites in Maryland. To compare precocity, productivity, and survival, nine asian pear cultivars and three European cultivars were planted in a replicated trial in 2010 at the Wye Research and Education Center (Wye REC). The asian pears were precocious and productive and many trees flowered and fruited in the second leaf. After the fourth leaf, survival of ‘Isi’iwasi’, ‘Shinsui’, ‘Kosui’, and ‘Olympic’ was good, while many ‘Hosui’ and ‘Ya Li’ (asian pear) trees as well as ‘Bartlett’ and ‘Golden Russett’ (european pear) trees had died at that point, following bloom infections of fire blight (Erwinia amylovora). At Keedysville (WMREC), 18 asian pear cultivars in two established plantings were evaluated for their field tolerance to fire blight following a severe hailstorm. The cultivars Shin Li, Daisu Li, Shinsui, and Olympic fared as well as Magness, a fire blight–tolerant european pear cultivar that served as a benchmark in that evaluation. Conversely, ‘Hosui’, ‘Choju’, ‘Kosui’, ‘Seigyoku’, ‘Ya Li’, and ‘Ts’e Li’ were severely damaged. Three consumer tastings were conducted using fruit from the Wye REC trial. ‘Yoinashi’, ‘Atago’, ‘Shinko’, and ‘Olympic’ were well received by consumers. After tasting asian pears, most people, even those less familiar with the crop, reported they would consider purchasing the fruit and requested the names of local producers. Based on our long-term research results, there appears to be a good opportunity for locally produced asian pear fruit. With the correct cultivar selection for fire blight management, local growers should be able to produce this alternative crop sustainably and market their fruit profitably.

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