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Richard P. Marini

Mature `Norman'peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] trees were dormant pruned to retain a range of fruiting shoots per tree (71 to 250) during 3 years from 1997 to 1999. About 40 days after bloom each year, fruits on all trees were thinned to similar crop loads, so only the number of fruits per shoot varied. Fruit set and number of fruits removed by hand thinning were positively related to number of fruiting shoots retained per tree. Number of fruits harvested per tree was not related to number of shoots per tree, whereas average fruit weight at thinning and at harvest, and crop value per tree were negatively related to the number of shoots retained per tree. These results indicate that commercial peach producers should consider modifying pruning and thinning strategies. Rather than retaining a large number of fruiting shoots per tree and hand thinning to distribute fruits every 15 to 20 cm along each fruiting shoot, producers should first determine the number of fruits that trees of a given cultivar can adequately size and then perform the thinning operation to obtain the desired crop load. The number of fruiting shoots retained per tree during pruning should be one-fifth to one-seventh of the number of fruits desired per tree, so that five to seven fruits per fruiting shoot are retained after hand thinning.

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Richard P. Marini

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Richard P. Marini

Chemical fruit thinners were applied to limbs or whole trees of spur `Delicious' at various stages of fruit development as indicated by fruit diameter. Carbaryl, naphthalene acetic acid (NAA), and ethephon all reduced fruit set when applied at a fruit diameter of ≈4 to 15 mm. Fruit thinning for NAA and carbaryl, alone or combined, generally was greater when applied at an average fruit diameter of 8 mm, rather than at 4 mm. Repeated applications of NAA or carbaryl were no more effective than single applications. NAA + carbaryl applied at 9 mm was more effective than NAA applied at 4 mm followed by carbaryl at 8 mm. Applied when fruit diameter averaged 17 to 22 mm, ethephon and ethephon + carbaryl were effective fruit thinners. When applied at full bloom to ≈10 and 20 mm, the insecticides ethion and oxamyl, respectively, were effective fruit thinners.

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Richard P. Marini

`Norman' peach trees were trained to the central-leader or open-vase form and were planted at high (740 trees/ha) or low (370 trees/ha) density. A third density treatment was a high/low density, where alternate trees in high-density plots were removed after 6 years to produce a low-density treatment. Annual yield per hectare was ≈15% to 40% greater for high-density treatments than for low-density treatments, but tree form had little influence on yield. Fruit size tended to be greater for low-density than for high-density treatments, but cumulative marketable yield was greatest for high-density and lowest for high/low density treatments. After 9 years, cumulative crop value was higher for open-vase than central-leader treatments (P = 0.12), but tree density had less of an effect on crop value (P = 0.21). Cumulative costs were highest for high-density treatments, but were not influenced by tree form. Income minus costs was nearly $4500/ha higher for open-vase than for central-leader trees and net present value was more than $2000/ha higher for high-density than low-density trees (P = 0.20). Open-vase trees were more profitable than central leader trees and should be planted at densities of about 700 trees/ha in the mid-Atlantic region.

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Richard P. Marini

Average fruit weight from two apple-thinning experiments was estimated by sampling 20-fruit/tree or harvesting all fruit on three branches/tree. The estimated values were compared with the true average fruit weight calculated from the entire crop on a tree. The value of a fruit was calculated from packout data obtained from the two sampling methods and was compared to the true value obtained from the entire tree. Statistical techniques, typically used by biometritions in medical research, were used to assess the agreement between the values obtained with the estimation methods and the true values. Estimates of average fruit weight obtained from 20-fruit/tree may differ from the true value by about 13% and estimates obtained from weighing all fruit on three limbs/tree may be within about 11% to 19% of the true mean. Estimates of fruit value obtained from a 20-fruit sample may differ from the true value by about 4 cents per fruit and estimates from three limbs/tree may differ from the true mean by about 7 cents per fruit. Analysis of variance was performed on each data set and the resulting P values differed for the three methods of estimating fruit weight and fruit value. Thus, erroneous conclusions may result from experiments where fruit weight and fruit value is estimated from relatively small samples.

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Richard P. Marini

Counting blossoms before treatment and collecting yield data for whole trees following thinning treatments arc expensive practices. Researchers often collect data on sample branches to reduce the time and expense of data collection. How accurate are these techniques? To generate discussion concerning sampling, results will he presented for several experiments where data were collected for whole trees vs. sample branches. Data will also be presented for different ways of assessing fruit size at thinning time. Fruit diameter, fruit weight and fruit volume were recorded for several cultivars over several seasons. I hope to generate discussion about the desirability of these different measures of fruit development.

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Richard P. Marini

Experiments with perennial crops often span several years, and a response variable may be measured on the same plant at several points in time. Such data are often analyzed as a split-plot design, taking time as the split-plot factor. In other cases, separate analyses are performed for each time. The mathematical conditions required for validity of these types of analyses might not hold because measurements repeated on the same plant are not independent. Annual trunk cross-sectional-area (TCSA) measurements from a peach tree training experiment will be used to compare two methods of analyses. The 6-year experiment was a factorial of two heading heights at planting (low vs. high) and two tree forms (central leader vs. open vase). Univariate analysis of variance (ANOVA) and a multivariate repeated measures analysis (MANOVA) was performed. Main effects and interactions were more often significant with ANOVA than with MANOVA. ANOVA performed each year inflated the probability of falsely rejecting a true null hypothesis (Type I error), and was not appropriate for this data set.

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Richard P. Marini

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Richard P. Marini