The ‘Stayman’ apple (Malus ×domestica) is a high-quality apple with good fresh-fruit and processing characteristics. Trees are of moderate to high vigor where it is grown in large numbers in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. However, ‘Stayman’ is prone to skin cracking, which in some seasons can result in losses that exceed 60% to 80% of the crop. A series of experiments was conducted between 1997 and 2001 to examine the effect of prohexadione–calcium (PCa) and a mixture of gibberellins A4 plus A7 (GA4+7) on shoot growth and cracking in ‘Stayman 201’ apple. PCa consistently reduced terminal shoot growth when applied in two or three sprays between petal fall (PF) and PF + 6 weeks [May and June (postbloom)]. PCa applied postbloom combined with three or four preharvest (July and August) PCa applications reduced the growth of water sprouts. The level of ‘Stayman’ fruit cracking varied with year, but in three of five experiments conducted from 1997 through 2001, five biweekly GA4+7 sprays applied alone preharvest reduced the percentage of cracked fruit at harvest. With only a few exceptions, spraying with PCa increased fruit cracking. When GA4+7 was applied to trees previously treated postbloom with PCa, the percentage of cracked fruit was often reduced, but not always, and generally not to the same level as that in non-PCa-treated trees. Fruit cracking was increased compared with the untreated control when a spray adjuvant was included with the postbloom PCa spray. PCa or GA4+7 had no effect on yield or fruit weight at harvest. The results of this study suggest caution in the use of PCa to suppress shoot growth in bearing ‘Stayman’ apple trees because of the potential for increased fruit cracking, which may be only partially reversed by the application of GA4+7.
Stephen S. Miller
To control excessive growth, vigorous `Smoothee Golden Delicious', `Jonagold', `Empire', and `Gala' apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) cultivars on Malling 7A (M.7A) rootstock planted at close in-row spacing (2.5 or 1.8 m) were mechanically root-pruned (RP), trunk-scored (TS; ringing), or both, annually for 3 to 5 years beginning in the fourth leaf. Trees were grown in a deep, well-drained, fertile soil and supplied with trickle irrigation. RP reduced terminal shoot length in 2 of 5 years on `Smoothee Golden Delicious'; trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA) was not affected by RP. TS reduced terminal length in 3 years and TCSA in each of 5 years of treatment on `Smoothee Golden Delicious'. Bloom density was not affected by RP on `Smoothee Golden Delicious' but was increased by TS in two of the three years measured. RP reduced terminal shoot length in `Gala', `Empire', and `Jonagold' in most years and TCSA in 1993 for all cultivars. TS had no effect on shoot length or TCSA in these three cultivars. Effects of RP and TS on yield and fruit size varied with year and cultivar. In general, the effects of RP and TS were inconsistent and often failed to reduce shoot growth or canopy spread. No practical advantage was recognized from these techniques for young apple trees growing on a fertile site with trickle irrigation.
Stephen S. Miller and Thomas Tworkoski
A series of experiments was conducted with apple (Malus ×domestica) and peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] from 2003 to 2008 to evaluate the flower thinning efficacy of eugenol and a eugenol-based essential oil. Flower thinning effects by hand defoliation and alternative chemical agents were compared with eugenol in different years. Eugenol or the eugenol-based contact herbicide Matran 2 EC (or Matratec AG) produced noticeable phytotoxicity to floral parts and exposed leaf tissue within 15 min to 1 h after application and injury was proportional to rate. At the highest rates (8% and 10%), eugenol resulted in complete burning of all exposed tissue except bark tissue, in which there were no visible signs of injury. Within 3 to 4 weeks of application, phytotoxicity was difficult to observe even at the higher rates of eugenol. In companion experiments, hand defoliation of young leaves at bloom resulted in abscission of young fruitlets in apple, but not in peach, indicating that eugenol may cause thinning by multiple mechanisms. Ammonium thiosulfate (ATS) [49 L·ha−1 or 6.0% (v/v)] provided thinning in peach and showed little or no phytotoxicity, but the response was inconsistent. ATS was also inconsistent in thinning apple. The thinning response from monocarbamidedihydrogen sulphate (MCDS; Wilthin) at 3.2% (v/v) was inconsistent in peach. At the rate used, MCDS caused some phytotoxicity on peach. Applications of 1% to 2% eugenol appear promising, but good blossom coverage is critical for thinning. Furthermore, eugenol formulations need improvement to ensure uniform coverage for more predictable thinning.
Tara Auxt Baugher and Stephen S. Miller
A 2-year study was designed to test the effect of four growth-suppressing treatments on the incidence of nectarine [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] pox, nectarine fruit quality, and the growth and nutritional status of nectarine trees. Root pruning was the only treatment that significantly reduced the incidence of nectarine pox. The percentage of red surface was increased by root pruning, foliar-applied paclobutrazol, and girdling. Root pruning and paclobutrazol suppressed extension shoot growth. Root pruning decreased fruit N, P, K, Mg, Mu, Fe, B, and Zn levels and increased fruit Ca. Results of the study support earlier observations that nectarine pox is associated with excessive shoot growth, excessive levels of fruit N and K, and low levels of fruit Ca. Chemical name used: Beta-[(4-chlorophenyl) methyl] -alpha-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-l-H-1,2,4 -triazole-l-ethanol (paclobutrazol).
Alan R. Biggs and Stephen S. Miller
Twenty-three apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) cultivars were tested in the field and laboratory for their relative susceptibility to the white rot pathogen, Botryosphaeria dothidea. Wounded fruit were inoculated in the field at 2 to 3 weeks preharvest with mycelium from 14- to 21-day-old cultures. In the laboratory, detached fruit were similarly inoculated. Fruit were rated for relative susceptibility to the fungus with two criteria: disease severity of attached fruit in the field based on lesion growth (mm/degree-day) and disease severity of detached fruit in laboratory inoculations of wounded fruit (mean lesion diameter after 5 days). Based on the laboratory and field data from 2 years of study, cultivars were classified into three relative susceptibility groups: most susceptible: `Fortune' and `Pristine'; moderately susceptible: `Golden Supreme', `Creston', `Ginger Gold', `Sansa', `Golden Delicious', `Senshu', `Orin', `Sunrise', `GoldRush', `Arlet', `Braeburn', `Cameo', `Enterprise', `Fuji', `Shizuka', `Gala Supreme', and NY 75414; and least susceptible: `Honeycrisp', `Yataka', `Suncrisp', and `PioneerMac'. Compared to previous cultivar rankings, the results of the present study indicate that some new apple cultivars from the first NE-183 planting show greater resistance to Botryosphaeria dothidea than current standard cultivars.
Richard H. Zimmerman and Stephen S. Miller
Four apple (Malus domestics Borkh.) cultivars, Northern Spy; Ozark Gold, Stayman, and Rome Beauty, were tissue cultured on their own roots (TC) or were budded on seedling, MM.106, or M.26 rootstock. All four cultivars were planted at Beltsville, Md., and `Ozark Gold' and `Stayman' were planted at Kearneysville, W. Va. TC trees produced more vegetative growth than trees budded on MM.106 and M.26 at both locations, but TC trees differed little in size from those budded on seedling rootstock. Flowering was delayed on TC and seedling rootstock trees relative to those on MM.106 or M.26 rootstock. Fruit yields in general were low but were higher for the trees on clonal rootstock than the TC or seedling rootstock trees, especially at Beltsville. The limited vegetative growth and poor fruit yield of trees on M.26 and MM.106 at Beltsville may have been due to significant infestation by plant parasitic nematodes at this site. TC trees seemed to have been less affected by the nematodes, probably because of their greater vigor and more extensive root systems. All trees at Kearneysville were more vigorous than comparable ones at Beltsville.
Henry W. Hogmire and Stephen S. Miller
As part of a regional NE-183 project (Multidisciplinary Evaluation of New Apple Cultivars), 23 apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) cultivars were evaluated for arthropod pest susceptibility. Incidence or injury data were collected from six foliage and eight fruit pests under field conditions over a four year period (2000–03). Cultivars were ranked based on susceptibility (least to most) to each pest, and rankings were summed for members of the foliage and fruit pest group to develop a susceptibility rating for foliage, fruit and all pests combined. Cultivars with lowest susceptibility to foliage pests included `GoldRush' and `Pioneer Mac', whereas `Yataka' and `Cameo' were most susceptible. For fruit pests, susceptibility was lowest for `Pristine' and `Sunrise', and highest for `Cameo', `Fuji Red Sport #2', and `Gala Supreme'. When both foliage and fruit pests were combined, susceptibility was lowest for `Sunrise' and `Pioneer Mac', and highest for `Cameo'. Some increasingly popular cultivars had high levels of injury from a few pests, including plum curculio and apple maggot on `Ginger Gold', codling moth and oriental fruit moth on `Cameo', and japanese beetle, plum curculio and apple maggot on `Honeycrisp'. A positive and significant correlation was found between day of harvest and percent fruit injury from codling moth/oriental fruit moth and tufted apple bud moth/redbanded leafroller, with later maturing cultivars experiencing higher injury levels presumably due to more exposure to later generations of these pests. Differences among cultivars in pest incidence and injury can be used by growers to improve pest management through cultivar selection, or by making modifications in control programs based on cultivar susceptibility.
Stephen S. Miller and Ross E. Byers
Seven-year-old `Blake'/`Lovell' peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] trees were subjected to four pruning levels (none, light, heavy, and dehorned) each at three times (April, May, and June) in a factorial arrangement following freezing injury in January 1994. Pruning had a significant effect on canopy height, canopy volume and fruit yields. Peach trees pruned in April or dehorned (severe pruning) had less canopy volume in the first fruiting season (1995) after the pruning treatments were initiated than trees pruned in May or June and light or heavy pruned trees. In 1995, yields were lower for trees pruned in June, nonpruned or dehorned trees in 1994. These treatments also produced fewer large fruit at harvest and thus reduced dollar returns per hectare in 1995. In 1996, fruit numbers and fruit sizes did not differ among treatments, but dehorned trees had lower returns per hectare because trees were smaller. The results of this study indicate that peach trees subjected to moderate winter injury should be pruned no later than 2 to 3 weeks after bloom using a heavy level of pruning. There appears to be no economic advantage to dehorn pruning even though canopy volume can be reduced resulting in a smallertree with high quality wood. The results clearly illustrate the long-term negative effect of dehorn pruning on yields resulting from reduced canopy volume. Mean number of cankers per tree increased over time from 1995 through 1998, but pruning treatments did not affect the number of cankers produced. Pruning treatments did affect the size of cankers and the number with visible gumming.
Stephen S. Miller and Mark W. Brown
Stephen S. Miller and Ross E. Byers
When temperatures reach -26 °C and lower, even for brief periods of time, damage to fruit buds and woody tissue of the peach tree is common. Low temperature injury on peach can lead to bark damage, gummosis, increased incidence of perennial canker, partial or complete crop losses, reduced shoot growth and/or tree death. In Jan. 1994 the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia and surrounding states experienced three successive nights of temperatures at -28 °C or lower. Beginning in Apr. 1994, 7-year-old `Blake'/Lovell peach trees were subjected to four pruning levels (none, light, heavy, and dehorned) each at three times (April, May, and June) in a replicated factorial arrangement. Specific pruning treatments were applied only in 1994; a local commercially recommended level and time of pruning were applied to all trees from 1995 through 1998. Treatments had a significant effect on canopy volume and fruit yields. Trees receiving no pruning or dehorned trees and trees pruned in June had lower yields in 1995 than trees pruned in April or May or trees receiving a light or heavy pruning. These treatments also produced fewer large fruit at harvest. Lower yields and smaller fruit led to reduced dollar returns per hectare in 1995. Yields from 1996 through 1998 were lower for trees that were dehorned pruned in 1994 although there were little or no differences in fruit sizes between treatments. Time and/or level of pruning had effects on the number of cankers and number of large (>5.1 cm) cankers.