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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

Experiments with factorial arrangements of treatments plus one or more other treatment(s) are sometimes analyzed with a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and means are separated with a multiple comparison. A set of single degree-of-freedom contrasts in a one-way ANOVA, provides formal tests for main effects and interactions. Data from a 2 × 3 factorial experiment that also contained a control were analyzed with a one-way ANOVA with a multiple comparison. Results from this analysis were compared to results obtained from a two-way ANOVA, a one-way ANOVA with pre-planned contrasts, a two-way ANOVA with least squares means comparisons obtained with SAS/general linear models procedure, and a regression model with an indicator variable and random blocks obtained with SAS/Mixed procedure. Results and interpretation differed depending on how the data were analyzed and these differences are discussed.

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Richard P. Marini

Three experiments were performed to determine if pruning treatments could reduce the need for peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] fruit thinning without reducing average fruit weight. To determine if dormant shoot heading affected fruit size simply by reducing the number of flowers per tree, all 1-year-old shoots on `Cresthaven' trees were headed by 50% or blossoms were removed from the terminal half of each shoot. At 45 days after full bloom, all trees were hand-thinned to obtain predetermined crop densities. Average fruit weight was highest on trees with blossom removal, but crop value and net profit were highest for nontreated trees. To determine the influence of treatment severity on fruit weight, all shoots on `Cresthaven' trees were blossom-thinned or headed to remove blossoms on varying proportions of each shoot. Fruit set and the number of fruit removed during postbloom thinning decreased as the percentage of a shoot that was headed or blossom-thinned increased. Average fruit weight at harvest and crop value were higher for trees with blossom removal than for trees with headed shoots. Fruit weight and crop value were not affected by the percentage of the shoot treated. In the final experiment, all shoots on `Cresthaven' trees were headed by 50% or were not headed. Heading of shoots reduced fruit set, number of fruits removed at thinning, and thinning time per tree, but yield, crop density, and average fruit weight were not affected by heading. Profit was increased by shoot heading one of the 3 years. Results from this study indicate that heading peach shoots by 50% while dormant pruning can reduce thinning costs without reducing fruit size, but a similar level of labor-intensive blossom removal may reduce postbloom thinning costs and improve fruit size.

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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

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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.