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  • Author or Editor: William H. Krueger x
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English walnut (Juglans regia, L.) is a monoecious species bearing staminate and pistillate flowers separately on the same tree. Walnuts are generally self-fruitful, cross-compatible and dichogamous, having incomplete overlap of pollen shed and female receptivity. It is this characteristic which led to the recommendation that about 10% of the trees in a commercial planting be a cultivar with a pollen shed period overlapping pistillate flower receptivity of the main cultivar. Excessive pollen load has been implicated in the `Serr' cultivar in pistillate flower abortion (PFA), the loss of the female flowers early in the season before fruit drop due to lack of pollination. PFA can be reduced and yield improved in `Serr' orchards by reducing pollen load. This can be accomplished by pollinizer removal, or catkin removal at the beginning of pollen shed by mechanical shaking. In years of significant bloom overlap between staminate and pistillate bloom, PFA can be further reduced and yield improved by removing `Serr' catkins. PFA occurs to a lesser extent in other cultivars such as `Chico', `Chandler', `Vina' and `Howard'. This information has led to the reevaluation of pollinizer recommendations. Research focused on optimum pollinizer levels in `Chandler', a cultivar of increasing importance to the California walnut industry, has been inconclusive. Lack of pollinizers may impact yields to a greater extent in the in the northern San Joaquin Valley and Sacramento Valley than in the southern San Joaquin Valley. In any case the previously recommended 10% appears to be excessive. Two to three percent is probably adequate to limit losses due to lack of pollination without resulting in excessive PFA, and is currently being recommended by extension farm advisors and specialists. Factors to consider when determining the number of pollinators to plant include: cultivar susceptibility to PFA, walnut pollen load in the area and local pollination and fruit set experiences.

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It has been observed that overhead irrigation does not cause cracking of sweet cherries (Prunus avium l.) to the same extent as a rain of equal duration. A series of simulated rain-overhead irrigation comparisons was made to test the hypothesis that the difference observed could be due to the dissolved salt content of irrigation waters. Although the quality of the irrigation waters selected were quite high (conductivity of 0.175 millimhos/cm or less), the cracking index of cherries wetted with irrigation water was consistently less than with deionized water. The results reemphasize the marked effect of even small amounts of dissolved salts, particularly the divalent cations, on reducing cracking of sweet cherry fruits.

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The relationship between changes in Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR), specific leaf weight, nitrogen per leaf area and fruit size at harvest were investigated within the canopy of Manzanillo olive. Increasing PAR in the tree canopy related linearly to increasing: specific leaf weight, nitrogen per leaf area and fruit size at harvest for samples collected adjacent to where the light measurements were made. From these results it appears as though specific leaf weight, and nitrogen per leaf area may be useful indicators for determining if light intensity is a limiting factor on fruit sizing within the canopy of Manzanillo olive. These and additional data will be discussed.

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The California table olive (Olea europaea L.) industry relies exclusively on hand harvesting of its primary Manzanillo cultivar. Increased harvesting costs have intensified industry interest in identifying an abscission agent that can be used with developing mechanical harvesting technologies to increase removal rates. Table olives are harvested immature green at horticultural maturity but before physiological maturity. The goal of this research was to reevaluate the potential of ethylene-releasing compounds (ERCs) as olive-loosening agents and to screen additional candidates previously shown to accelerate citrus fruit abscission. Eleven compounds were screened at two separate table olive-growing sites (Fresno and Tehama counties) in California in September until Nov. 2006. Compounds were applied at various concentrations alone or in combination. Fruit detachment force (FDF) and percent fruit drop were measured and leaf loss assessed. Of the compounds evaluated, the ERC ethephon (2-chloroethyl phosphonic acid) and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid were the most efficacious. In whole tree applications, concentrations of ethephon or 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid above 1000 mg·L−1 reduced FDF to less than 50% of the untreated control within 17 days, but leaf drop increased with increasing concentrations. Addition of 1-methylcyclopropene reduced efficacy of ethephon and delayed leaf drop. Monopotassium phosphate + ethephon (4% and 1000 mg·L−1, respectively) reduced FDF and leaf loss was equivalent to the ethephon alone treatment. Compounds such as methyl jasmonate, coronatine, dikegulac, MAXCEL, traumatic acid, and 5-chloro-3-methyl-4-nitro-1H-pyrazole were not efficacious.

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Table olives (Olea europaea) traditionally are hand harvested when green in color and before physiological maturity is attained. Hand harvesting accounts for the grower's main production costs. Several mechanical harvesting methods have been previously tested. However, tree configuration and fruit injury are major constraints to the adoption of mechanical harvesting. In prior work with a canopy shaker, promising results were attained after critical machine components were reconfigured. In this study, stereo video analysis based on two high-speed cameras operating during the harvesting process were used to identify the sources of fruit damage due to canopy-harvester interaction. Damage was subjectively evaluated after harvest. Fruit mechanically harvested had 35% more bruising and three times as many fruit with broken skin as that of hand-harvested fruit. The main source of fruit damaged in the canopy was the strike-impact of fruit by harvester rods. Implementation of softer padding materials were effective in mitigating fruit injury caused by the impact of rods and hard surfaces. Canopy acceleration was correlated with fruit damage, thus restricting improvements needed for fruit removal efficiency through increased tine frequency.

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