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Terence Robinson

Field thinning studies were conducted in two orchards at Geneva and Milton, N.Y., over 3 years (2003–05) using mature Gala/M.9 trees. A range of final croploads was achieved with various chemical thinning treatments, including, benzyladenine combined with carbaryl, or napthaleneacetic acid combined with carbaryl. The most-aggressive thinning treatments in the year with high rainfall achieved an average fruit size of 190–200 g; however, the yield was reduced considerably, resulting in a reduced farm gate crop value compared to less-aggressive thinning. In a dry year, the fruit sizes were smaller even with aggressive thinning. The optimum yield for maximum crop value varied for each orchard block for each year. The optimum croploads varied less than the optimum yield, since cropload normalizes the tree size between blocks. Optimum fruit size to maximize crop value varied narrowly between 155–170 g (113–100 count size) across blocks and years. This was true despite a substantial price difference between large, 80-count fruits and the moderate-size 113-count fruits. If lower prices received for processed apples were used in the analysis, then the optimum yield was significantly higher than with fresh fruit prices. In New York State, it appears that achieving 80-count fruit requires too large of a reduction in yield, which causes a reduction in crop value.

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David W. Wolff, Marvin E. Miller and Carmen Lander

The nature and magnitude of genotype × environment interactions will determine the extent of testing required (locations, years) to accurately evaluate a genotype's performance. Data from yearly T-AES muskmelon variety trials were analyzed to determine the level of variety (V) × year (Y), V × location (L), and V × Y × L interactions for yield and fruit size. Data analyzed were of nine hybrids grown at three commercial farms over two years. Fruits were harvested similar to grower practices, and were sorted into size classes (9 - 30) or culls. V × Y and V × L interactions for marketable yield and total yield were not significant. V × Y × L interaction was significant for marketable yield, but not for total yield. V × Y × L interactions were highly significant for percentage culls and percentage of fruit in each size class. V × L interactions were also significant for percentage of fruit in most size classes. Data indicate that specific location-year combinations differentially affect a genotype's fruit size, most likely due to weather, planting time, and stress factors. Multiple year and location testing of genotypes is therefore critical, particularly for evaluation of fruit size.

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Gabino H. Reginato, Víctor García de Cortázar and Terence L. Robinson

The price of exported fruit from Chile is a function of fruit size and shipment date with larger and earlier shipped fruit receiving the highest price per kilogram at the farm gate. For processing peaches, fruit size is not the most important

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Craig E. Kallsen*

Yield, fruit quality parameters and pruning costs were compared among differentially-pruned, mature navel orange trees planted at a density of 222 trees per hectare (90 trees per acre) in 2000, 2001 and 2002. The experiment was designed as a replicated, split block with topping height as the main plot split by three levels of interior pruning as subplots. A tree was reduced in height by mechanical topping to 4.3 m, 4.9 m or left untopped and hand pruned according to one of the three following options: 1. scaffold removal in March of 2000 followed by dead-brushing in 2001, and 2002; 2. dead-brushing only in 2000, 2001, and 2002; or 3. no topping or dead-brushing. Scaffold removal resulted in removal of approximately 50% of the tree canopy. Data were collected from experimental trees surrounded by similarly topped and interiorly pruned border trees. A highly significant positive-linear correlation (r 2 = 0.95) was found between the total numbers of fruit produced annually per hectare versus the total number of fruit sized 72 to 88 mm in diameter (i.e. fruit sized such that 88 to 48 may be packed in a standard 17-kg packing carton). This functional relationship existed whether reductions in fruit numbers were the result of severe pruning in March or from, apparently, weather-related year to year variability in fruit set. These results suggest that anything in this orchard that reduces fruit numbers below approximately 250,000 fruit per hectare at harvest (100,000 per acre) will result in a mathematically predictable decrease in the total number of harvested fruit sized 72 to 88 mm in diameter. Trees that were not topped and which had no interior pruning produced the largest number of valuable fruit without additional pruning costs.

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Jeffrey G. Williamson* and E. Paul Miller

Poor fruit set and sub-optimum berry size are potential yield- and profit-limiting factors for southern highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum) blueberry production in Florida. The cytokinin N-(2-chloro-4-pyridyl)-N'-phenylurea (CPPU) has increased fruit size and fruit set of a number of fruit crops including rabbiteye blueberry. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of CPPU applied at different rates and phenological stages of bloom and/or fruit development on fruit size, set, and yield of southern highbush blueberry. `Millennia' and `Star' southern highbush blueberry plants located on a commercial blueberry farm in Alachua County, Fla., were treated with 5 or 10 ppm CPPU at various stages of development ranging from full bloom to 20 days after full bloom. In contrast to findings with rabbiteye blueberry, fruit set in this study of southern highbush blueberry was not affected by any of the CPPU treatments when compared to the controls. Nor was total fruit yield affected by CPPU treatments. The most noticeable potential benefit found in this study was an increase in mean fruit fresh weight from CPPU treatments. However, cultivars responded differently to CPPU with respect to mean fruit fresh weight. For `Millennia', only one CPPU treatment increased mean fruit weight compared to controls. However, for `Star', all but one CPPU treatment increased mean fruit fresh weight. Several CPPU treatments resulted in delayed fruit ripening for `Star' but not for `Millennia'. For `Star', the treatments that most consistently delayed fruit ripening tended to have greater fruit fresh weights.

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Martin J. Bukovac, Brent L. Black, Jerome Hull Jr. and Matej Stopar

Benzyladenine (BA), reported to increase fruit growth in apples, was evaluated with NAA to overcome NAA-induced inhibition of fruit growth. High volume sprays of NAA (15 mg·liter-1), BA (25 to 100 mg·liter-1) and combinations were applied to Redchief `Delicious' (king fruit = 10 mm). Yield was not significantly reduced. The combinations (NAA + BA 25, 50 or 100 mg·liter-1) resulted in the highest percentage of small fruit (39% < 70 mm) and the lowest percentage of large fruit (35% > 77 mm) compared to NAA, BA and hand thinned control. There was no significant effect of NAA or BA on size of king fruit in absence of lateral fruit competition on a given spur, while the combinations decreased (P = 0.01) king fruit size. NAA, but not BA, reduced growth of lateral fruit, with or without competition. However, the combinations caused marked suppression of lateral fruit growth and reduced seed content. With `Empire', both NAA (10 mg·liter-1) and BA (25 to 150 mg·liter-1) effectively thinned. Fruit size was greater with BA than NAA. The combinations (NAA, 10 mg·liter-1 + BA, 25 or 50 mg·liter-1) over-thinned and did not increase the amount of small fruit as in `Delicious'.

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David C. Ferree

`Jonathan'/M.26 apple (Malus domestics Borkh.) trees were root-pruned annually on two sides, 60 cm from the trunk, to a depth of 40 cm for 6 years while dormant, at bloom, or in mid-June. Root pruning reduced terminal shoot growth by ≈30% in 1985-89 with no influence in 1990. Cumulative yield was reduced by root pruning at bloom (14%) or mid-June (20%), and cumulative yield efficiency [kg·cm-2 trunk cross-sectional area) was reduced by root pruning with no difference among pruning times except in 1 year, where abundant moisture throughout the season appeared to negate the effect. The intensity of biennial bearing was reduced by root pruning with no relationships to time of pruning. Root pruning resulted in a decrease in large fruit and an increase in small fruit in 3 of the 6 years. A covariant analysis with yield showed that root pruning reduced average fruit size. Root-pruned trees produced firmer fruit with an increased soluble solids concentration and had less preharvest drop than nonpruned trees. Under severe drought conditions in 1988, root pruning reduced net photosynthesis and transpiration; supplemental water (57 liters·week-1) increased transpiration and fruit size at harvest.

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Amos Naor

Interrelations between water potential and fruit size, crop load, and stomatal conductance were studied in drip-irrigated `Spadona' pear (Pyrus communis L) grafted on quince C (Cydonia oblonga L.) rootstock and growing in a semi-arid zone. Five irrigation rates were applied in the main fruit growth phase: rates of 0.25, 0.40, 0.60, 0.80, and 1.00 of “Class A” pan evaporation rate. The crop in each irrigation treatment was adjusted to four levels (200 to 1200 fruit per tree) by hand thinning at the beginning of June 1999. The crop was harvested on 1 Aug. 1999, and fruit size was determined by means of a commercial sorting machine. Soil, stem, and leaf water potentials and stomatal conductance were measured during the season. Crop yield was highly correlated with stem and soil water potentials. The highest midday stem water potential was lower than values commonly reported for nonstressed trees, and was accompanied by high soil water potential, indicating that the maximal water absorption rate of the root system under those particular soil conditions was limited. Stomatal conductance was highly correlated with leaf water potential (r 2 = 0.54), but a much better correlation was found with stem water potential (r 2 = 0.80). Stomatal conductance decreased at stem water potentials less than -2.1 MPa. Both stem water potential and stomatal conductance were unaffected by crop load under a wide range of irrigation rates.

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Stephen Reiners and Dale I.M. Riggs

Field studies were conducted at two locations in 1995 to determine the effect of spacing, nitrogen application, and variety on pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L.) marketable yield. Pumpkin yield was unaffected by three rates of applied N (67, 112, or 157 kg N·ha-1). Marketable fruit number per hectare increased with both 'Howden' and 'Wizard' pumpkins as in-row plant spacing decreased from 1.2 to 0.3 m. Average fruit size significantly decreased at the closer spacing, but the decline in mass was much greater in nonirrigated as compared to irrigated plots. This resulted in a significantly greater yield in the irrigated plots at the closer spacing, while there was no significant increase in yield without irrigation. The results demonstrate that growers may increase the number of fruit per unit area with closer spacing but optimal soil moisture may be a prerequisite for the increase.

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J.R. Schupp

Effects of chemical thinners on yield, fruit size, and fruit quality was studied in a commercial orchard in Milton, N.Y., on 6-year-old `Honeycrisp'/M.26 trees. The trees were planted at 1.8 × 3.6-m spacing with trickle irrigation and were trained to the vertical axis system. The treatments applied in a randomized complete-block design with four replications were an untreated control; carbaryl (Sevin XLR at 125 mL/100 L); NAA at 2.5 ppm, 5 ppm, or 7.5 ppm; NAA at 2.5 or 5 ppm plus carbaryl; and Accel (a.i. at 74 g·ha-1) plus carbaryl. Chemical thinners were applied to drip with an air-blast sprayer, when the largest fruit were 11.5 mm in diameter. Generally, thinning activity increased with increasing NAA concentration. The combination sprays of 5 ppm NAA plus carbaryl, and Accel plus carbaryl over-thinned `Honeycrisp'. Carbaryl alone was inconsistent. All thinning treatments increased fruit size relative to unthinned trees, with average fruit diameter exceeding 76 mm. `Honeycrisp' is a large-fruited cultivar that is easy to thin chemically at the traditional 10- to 12-mm growth stage. NAA at 2.5 or 5 ppm provided adequate thinning to produce fruit of good quality and size. If initial set is heavy and a stronger thinning response is desired, the combination of 2.5 ppm NAA plus carbaryl could be used. `Honeycrisp' appears to be very sensitive to Accel, when used in combination with Sevin XLR. Further research needed before Accel is used to thin `Honeycrisp'.