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  • Author or Editor: Steve Southwick x
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French prunes growing on marianna 2624 (P. cerasifera × P. munsonianna; M 2624), myrobalan seedling and 29C (P. cerasifera; MS and M 29C, respectively) were planted in 1981 on a clay type soil, and evaluated for growth and yield components over a 10 year period. Thirty replicate trees per treatment were pruned and grown under uniform irrigation and fertility regimes. There were no tree size differences among rootstocks after 10 years growth even though initial and seasonal trunk cross sectional area differences were observed. Trees on MS rootstock were highest yielding in the initial 2 years of fruiting, but cumulative yields were not different as a function of rootstock. More rootstock suckers were counted on M 2624 than myrobalan rootstocks. Excavations revealed that trees on MS had a deeper root distribution. No statistical differences were observed with regard to fruit size and fresh to dry fruit weight ratios.

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Prune (Prunus domestica) producers have an increased incentive to produce larger fruit. Potassium is thought to be critical in prune production and the fruit utilize large amounts of K. Growers have been fertilizing heavily with K to maximize fruit size. We conducted a survey of 16 `French' prune orchards in 1998 and 1999 growing seasons. Low (≈1.0% mid-July) leaf K concentration is associated with leaf chlorosis, early leaf drop and shoot dieback, with symptoms pronounced in the upper canopy, particularly with heavy cropping. The survey orchards were chosen to represent a range of leaf K within and among orchards, and among counties. At harvest, fruit drying ratio, dry yield per tree, and dried fruit size were determined in order to develop relationships between fruit quality and yield, and leaf K over the growing season. To date we have determined the following: 1) spring (May 1998 and April–May 1999) leaf K concentration is correlated with mid-summer (mid-July 1998) and early summer (late June 1999) leaf K concentration, respectively; 2) mid-April to mid-May leaf K concentration is being maintained by growers due to thinning and fertilizing, and to light cropping in 1998, at adequate to above adequate levels (2%) that increase through the growing season; 3) no beneficial relationship between fruit size, drying ratio or dry yield has been found with spring or summer (June or mid-July) leaf K concentration above 2%, either when evaluating all surveyed orchards together or as individual orchards.

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During the past 5 years, we have investigated the relationship between cherry skin color stages (light red, 50% bright red, 100% bright, and dark red) measured at harvest and harvest/shipping quality for `Brooks', `Tulare', and `King' cultivars. This relationship was studied with fruit grown in different geographic locations within the San Joaquin Valley (SJV). SSC increased, but titratable acidity levels did not change as cherries matured to the dark skin color. The perception of sweetness, sourness, and cherry flavor by a trained taste panel was related to the different cherry skin color stages. Dark red color developed on cherries picked at earlier color stages after simulated shipment. Pitting and stem browning were the main market life limitations. Pitting, stem browning, and decay were higher on cherries picked at the dark and 100% bright red colors than cherries picked at earlier stages.

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