Eight groundcover management systems (GMS) have been evaluated since 1986 in an apple orchard replant site. Tree-row GMS have included post-emergence herbicide (glyphosate) “killed sods,” pre-emergence herbicide (norflurazon + diuron) strips, a crownvetch “living mulch,” hay-straw mulch, monthly cultivation, a close-mowed sod, and an unmowed, chemically growth-regulated (maleic hydrazide + 2,4-D) sodgrass. Soil organ&matter content, surface aggregate structure, and water infiltration have improved under vegetative groundcovers relative to herbicide treatments. Extractable soil N, K, P and B have increased under straw mulch. Except for K, foliar nutrient content (dry wt basis) has not been closely coupled with soil nutrient content. Leaf K, P and B contents have increased, while leaf N, Mg and Zn, have decreased in trees in sodgrass relative to herbicide GMS.
I.A. Merwin and W. C. Stiles
E.W. Stover, T.E. Paine and W.C. Stiles
Damage to xylem subtending apple buds is often observed following very low winter temperatures. Reports suggest that prebloom application of boron, zinc, and urea facilitate recovery. Prebloom nutrient treatments were applied to `McIntosh' and `Empire' at three sites in Spring 1994. The following treatments were applied to drip at half-inch green: boron (22.8 mM, solubor); Zn-EDTA (0.75 mM); boron and Zn-EDTA; boron, Zn-EDTA, and urea (59.4 mM). Another treatment used boron and Zn-EDTA at half-inch green, followed by boron, Zn-EDTA, and urea at pink. Spur leaf area, fruit set, fruit size, and seed number were determined. There were no clear treatment effects at the warmest site (mid-winter low –32C); however, this orchard was more variable than other treatment sites. The intermediate site (mid-winter low –37C) had a strong trend of increasing fruit set in `Empire' and `McIntosh' as more nutrients were applied. The combined half-inch green and pink treatment significantly increased fruit set by 23.8% compared to the untreated control. At the coldest site (mid-winter low –42C), `Empire' again displayed a strong trend of increasing fruit set with additional nutrients. All treatments combining boron and zinc significantly increased fruit set. The combined half-inch green and pink treatment increased fruit set by 43%. At this site `McIntosh' did not respond to treatment. However, `McIntosh' trees had continued active growth into late Fall 1993 and sustained severe cold injury in November. Data suggest that, when they were effective, nutrient treatments resulted in increased retention of flower buds on damaged spurs.
T. L. Robinson, W. C Stiles and A. N. Lakso
In two field studies with `Redchief Delicious'/MM.106, 'Empire'/M.9/MM.106 and 'Mutsu'/M.9/MM. 106 trees on fertile silt loam soils, trickle irrigation increased vegetative growth during the first three years and resulted in a 16%-20% increase in cumulative yield over the first five years. When fertilizer was injected into the irrigation water weekly from mid-April until the end of June, tree growth was further increased and cumulative yield was improved an additional 11%-15% for a total of 27%-35% greater yield than the non-irrigated trees. In these studies, ground fertilization did not improve growth or yield unless trickle irrigation was also applied. However, ground fertilization was not as effective as fertigation.
Irrigation and fertigation increased the dry weight of roots by 23% and that of shoots by 36% in the first year resulting in a 10% reduction in the root/shoot ratio. Total tree dry weight was increased by 30% if trees were planted early (April 14) but only 14% if trees were planted late (June 10).
Early planting resulted in 17% greater cumulative yield than trees planted late. Initial tree caliper also had a significant effect on early growth and yield with large caliper trees yielding 12% more than the small caliper trees. The interaction of planting date, tree caliper and fertigation resulted in a 50%-70% increase in yield during the first five years.
Warren C. Stiles, Terence L. Robinson and W. Shaw Reid
Fertilizer treatments were applied by spreading over an herbicide-treated in-row strip, with or without irrigation using single-drip emitters per tree, or through drip irrigation. Distribution of nutrients in soils was evaluated by analysis of soil samples collected at various depths and distances from the irrigation emitters at the end of the 8-year experimental period. NO3-N was increased in the 0- to 40-cm depth by soil surface application but below 40 cm with fertigation. Fertigation increased P in the wetted zone within the 0- to 40-cm depths. Surface application of K increased levels primarily in the 0- to 20-cm zone, while fertigation increased K to depths of 80 cm. Zinc and Cu concentrations were increased by fertigation to 80-cm depth. In general, nutrients applied to the soil surface were less readily moved into the soil profile, while fertigation resulted in greater movement of nutrients to greater depths within the wetted zone of soil.
Warren C. Stiles, Terence L. Robinson and W. Shaw Reid
Experiments conducted since 1986 indicate that multi-nutrient fertigation may be effective in improving early growth and yield of new orchards. However, the early studies did not provide information concerning the contributions of individual nutrient elements to these responses. Experiments were established in 1993 and 1994 to compare effectiveness of alternative sources, rates, and methods of applying K, Zn, and Cu through drip irrigation compared with annual soil surface applications to `McIntosh'/M.9 and `Empire'/M.9 trees. After 3 years, leaf K, cumulative shoot growth, and first crop year yields were increased by application of K. Differences between sources, rates, times, or methods of application generally were not significant when relatively high rates were applied. However, early results from a rate study indicate a significant K source by rate interaction. Soil surface application of K plus drip irrigation appears to be comparable to fertigation in supplying this element. After 2 years, applying EDTA chelates of Zn and Cu through fertigation increased leaf Zn and Cu, respectively, but high rates required are considered to be uneconomical when compared with foliar sprays of these elements.
E.W. Stover, M.J. Fargione, K.A. Iungerman and W.C. Stiles
Active growth in late Fall 1993, followed by very low temperatures in November, resulted in widespread loss of scaffolds and leaders of `McIntosh' in the Champlain Valley. Treatments to encourage earlier dormancy are being investigated to address this problem in future seasons. Initial studies showed that 39 mm CuEDTA or 16 mm CuEDTA + 0.25% ultrafine spray oil (sprayed to drip) resulted in 3–4 weeks earlier leaf drop of `Empire' in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Evaluation of cold-hardiness, measured as electrolyte leakage after controlled freezing in a Tenney chamber, indicated greater cold-hardiness from these treatments in early December without reducing mid-winter hardiness. CuEDTA treatments ranging from 4–32 mm, all with 0.25% ultrafine spray oil, were applied to fifth leaf `Marshall McIntosh' on M.9/MM.111 interstems in the Champlain Valley on 12 Oct. 1995. Defoliation was accelerated with each increase in rate examined in this study. The highest rate again advanced defoliation 3–4 weeks compared to controls and increased cold-hardiness on 1 Dec. 19/95 as measured though electrolyte leakage. Evaluation of cold-hardiness in shoots collected on 8 Feb. 1996 showed no significant difference between electrolyte leakage from controls and trees treated with CuEDTA.
Alan N. Lakso, Terence L. Robinson, Eddie W. Stover, Warren C. Stiles, Stephen Hoying, Kevin Iungerman, Craig Telgheder, Chris Watkins and Kenneth Silsby
Many chemical, environmental, and physiological factors have been reported to be important to apple chemical thinning, so we have been developing a multi-site and multi-year database of chemical thinning results and potentially important factors. For 3 years, we have conducted replicated thinning trials in `Empire' and `McIntosh' apple orchards at six or seven sites around New York state in different climatic regions. Different concentrations of NAA and Accel (primarily benzyladenine), NAA/carbaryl and Accel/carbaryl combinations and unthinned controls were tested with treatments applied at the 10-mm king fruit stage by airblast sprayers. Flower cluster counts, set counts, yields, fruit sizes, and other factors thought important to thinning response (orchard condition/history, weather, application conditions, etc.) were measured or estimated in each trial. Analysis of factor importance is continuing, but some general results have come from the thinning trials so far. Thinning effectiveness varied among years from poor to adequate. There have not been consistent thinner concentration responses. Commercial NAA and Accel concentrations have not thinned adequately. NAA/carbaryl and Accel/carbaryl have thinned the most. For the same crop load, trees thinned with Accel or the carbaryl combination have had better fruit size than when thinned with NAA.