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A.N. Lakso, G.B. Mattii, J.P. Nyrop, and S.S. Denning

The hypothesis was tested that effects of late-season European Red Mite (ERM) [Panonychus ulmi (Koch)] injury on apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) fruit development are better explained by carbon physiology than by pest densities. Midseason ERM populations were allowed to develop in mature semi-dwarf `Starkrimson Delicious'/M26 trees with moderately heavy crops, then were controlled with miticides at different mite-day (activity of one mite per leaf for 1 day) levels as estimated by weekly leaf sampling. The range of final mite-days was from 250 to 2100 on individual trees. Seasonal fruit growth patterns were monitored. Diurnal whole-canopy net CO2 exchange rate (NCER) was measured in eight clear flexible balloon whole-canopy chambers on several dates before and after mite infestations. Mite injury reduced fruit growth rates. Leaf and whole-canopy NCER were reduced similarly. Late season fruit growth and final fruit size were correlated with accumulated mite-days, but were better correlated to whole-canopy NCER per fruit. Fruit firmness, color, soluble solids and starch ratings showed no correlation to mite-days. Number of flower clusters per tree and final fruit per tree the following year were not related to accumulated mite-days, but final fruit per tree the following year were better correlated to whole-canopy NCER per fruit. These results generally supported the hypothesis.

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A.H.D. Francesconi, A.N. Lakso, J.P. Nyrop, J. Barnard, and S.S. Denning

The hypothesis that carbon balance is the basis for differences in responses by lightly and normally cropped apple trees to European red mite (ERM) [Panonychus ulmi (Koch)] damage was tested. Mature `Starkrimson Delicious' (Malus domestica Borkh.)/M.26 apple trees were hand-thinned to light (125 fruit/tree, about 20 t/ha) or normal (300 fruit/tree, about 40 t/ha) target crop levels and infested with low [<100 cumulative mite-days (CMD)], medium (400 to 1000 CMD) or high (>1000 CMD) target levels of ERM. A range of crop loads and CMD was obtained. Mite population density, fruit growth, leaf and whole-canopy net CO2 exchange rates (NCER) were measured throughout the growing season of 1994. Leaf area and vegetative growth per tree were also measured. Yield and final mean fruit size were determined at harvest. Return bloom and fruiting were determined the following year. Total shoot length per tree was not affected by crop load or mite damage. ERM reduced leaf and whole-canopy NCER. Normally cropped trees showed fruit weight reduction earlier and more severely than lightly cropped trees with high mite injury. Variation in final fruit weight, return bloom and return fruiting was much better related to whole-canopy NCER per fruit than to CMD.

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Jens-Norbert Wünsche, Alan N. Lakso, Steven S. Denning, and Terence L. Robinson

A 14-year-old trial of `Empire' apple production systems (Slender Spindle/M9, Central Leaders on M7 and 9/111 interstems, and Y-trellis/M26) had shown significant yield differences that were primarily related to total light interception, but yield of fruit/MJ light interception, however, was still higher in the Y-trellis. The hypothesis tested was that in healthy orchards yields are related primarily tototal light intercepted by the spur canopy. In 1991 seasonal leaf area development, exposed leaf photosynthesis, fruit growth, total light interception (by image analysis of fisheye photos) and relative light interception by different shoot types (by a laser sunbeam simulator) were estimated. The results reflected the mature, spurry nature of these trees. The final LAI values were CL/7=1.8, CL/9/111=2.3, SS/9=2.6 and Y/26=3.6. Exposed leaf photosynthesis showed few differences. Yields of the pyramid forms were 40-42 t/ha while Y-trellis gave 59 t/ha, with similar fruit sizes. Again, yields were primarily related to % total light interception (48-53% for pyramid forms versus 62% for the Y). Laser analyses showed that the Y intercepted more light with the spur canopy than the pyramid forms, supporting the hypothesis. Yields were better correlated with spur canopy LAI and spur canopy light interception than with shoot canopy LAI and light interception.

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Jens N. Wünsche, Alan N. Lakso, Terence L Robinson, Fritz Lenz, and Steven S. Denning

Although apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) system yield differences are generally related to whole-canopy light interception, this study tested the hypothesis that these orchard yields are related primarily to total light intercepted by the spur canopy. Seasonal leaf area development of different shoot types, exposed bourse shoot leaf net photosynthesis, fruit growth, whole canopy light interception (by image analysis of fisheye photographs) and relative light interception by different shoot types (by a laser assisted canopy scanning device) were estimated within four 14-year-old `Empire' apple production systems (slender spindle/M.9, central leader/M.7, central leader/M.9/MM.111 and Y-trellis/M.26). The final LAI values were CL/M.7 = 1.8, CL/9/111 = 2.3, SS/M.9 = 2.6 and Y/M.26 = 3.6. Exposed leaf net photosynthesis showed few differences and was not dependent upon the production system. Yields of the pyramidal shaped tree forms were 40 to 42 t·ha-1 while Y-trellis produced 59 t·ha-1, with similar fruit sizes. Again, yields were primarily related to the percentage of light intercepted by the whole canopy, 48% to 53% for conic forms versus 62% for the Y-trellis system. Laser analyses showed that the Y-trellis system intercepted about 20% to 30% more light with the spur canopy than the conic tree forms, supporting the hypothesis. Yields were better correlated with spur canopy LAI and spur canopy light interception than with extension shoot canopy LAI and light interception.

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A.H.D. Francesconi, C.B. Watkins, A.N. Lakso, J.P. Nyrop, J. Barnard, and S.S. Denning

Fruit maturity, quality, calcium concentration and economic value of `Starkrimson Delicious' (Malus domestica Borkh.) apples, under a range of crop levels and European red mite [Panonychus ulmi (Koch)] cumulative mite-days (CMD), were best explained by local surface regression models involving CMD and crop load. Fruit from trees with low CMD and a light crop (125 fruit/tree, about 20 t/ha) were the most mature at harvest. Those fruit had higher ethylene concentrations, starch pattern indices, soluble solids concentrations, and watercore incidence at harvest than fruit from trees with low CMD and a normal crop (300 fruit/tree, about 40 t/ha), or with high CMD at any crop level. Those fruit also had higher incidences of watercore and internal breakdown after 4 months of cold storage. Calcium concentrations in fruit increased as crop load and CMD increased. Whole-canopy net CO2 exchange rate per fruit related better to fruit quality and calcium concentrations than either crop load or CMD alone, but was always a much worse predictor than local surface regressions. Low CMD and normally cropped trees had the highest crop value; lightly cropped trees had an intermediate crop value; while high CMD and normally cropped trees had the lowest crop economic value. Crop load should be considered when defining action thresholds for mites, and harvest schedules for apples should reflect crop load and mite populations on apple trees.