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Todd C. Einhorn, Debra Laraway, and Janet Turner

the vigorous rootstock ‘Mazzard’ effectively balance the high productivity and precocity of ‘Sweetheart’, or could fruit quality, and importantly, crop value be improved by imposing a crop load management strategy? The following study was designed to

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

also important in determining the farm gate crop value. Attempts to calculate optimum orchard crop load to maximize crop value by computer models have incorporated crop load and other additional factors with kiwi ( Atkins, 1990 ) or peaches ( Johnson

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Matthew D. Whiting, David Ophardt, and James R. McFerson

The commercial adoption of the relatively new rootstock `Gisela 5' (Prunus cerasus L. × P. canescens L.) has been limited in the United States sweet cherry (P. avium L.) industry despite its ability to induce precocity and productivity and reduce scion vigor compared to the standard Mazzard (P. avium). This is due in large part to inadequate crop load management that has led to high yields of small fruit. This paper reports on sweet cherry chemical blossom thinning trials conducted in 2002 and 2003. Two percent ammonium thiosulphate (ATS), 3% to 4% vegetable oil emulsion (VOE), and tank mixes of 2% fish oil + 2.5% lime sulphur (FOLS) were applied to entire 8- and 9-year-old `Bing'/`Gisela 5' sweet cherry canopies at about 10% full bloom (FB) and again at about 90% FB. In both years, ATS and FOLS reduced fruit set by 66% to 33% compared to the control (C). VOE reduced fruit set by 50% compared to C in 2002 but had no effect in 2003. In 2002, fruit yield was 30% to 60% lower from thinned trees. In 2003, fruit yield was unaffected by thinning treatment. In 2002, ATS and FOLS improved fruit soluble solids but had no effect in 2003. VOE did not affect fruit soluble solids in 2002 and reduced fruit soluble solids by 12%, compared to C, in 2003. In 2002, each thinning treatment nearly eliminated the yield of the small fruit (≤21.5-mm diameter) and increased yield of large fruit (≥26.5 mm) by more than 400%, compared to C. In 2003, ATS and FOLS did not affect yield of small fruit but increased the yield of large fruit by 60%. In 2003, VOE-treated trees yielded 4.3 kg of small fruit per tree compared to about 0.15 kg from C, suggesting a phytotoxic response to VOE beyond that which may effect thinning. Compared to C, ATS and FOLS consistently reduced fruit set and improved fruit quality. We conclude that commercially acceptable yields of excellent quality `Bing' sweet cherries can be grown on size-controlling and precocious rootstocks.

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Ed Stover, Ferdinand Wirth, and Terence Robinson

Analysis of apple (Malus×domestica Borkh.) and citrus thinning experiments indicates that the relationships between cropload, fruit size, and total yield can be used to assess optimal cropload for highest crop value. Mean fruit size increased and total yield declined as the cropload (number of fruit/cm2 trunk cross-sectional area) was reduced through the use of chemical thinners. Because crop value is influenced by fruit size and total yield, intermediate croploads gave the highest economic returns in all experiments evaluated. For `Empire' apple, croploads greater than those expected to provide good return bloom often produced the highest crop value for a single year. In citrus, optimal crop values resulted from a broad range of intermediate croploads. A method is described to analyze optimum cropload from thinning experiments.

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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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Richard P. Marini, Donald S. Sowers, and Michele Choma Marini

`Sweet Sue' peach (Prunus persica L. Batsch) trees were subjected to a factorial arrangement of treatments. At planting, trees were headed at 10 or 70 cm above the bud union and trees were trained to an open-vase or central-leader form. For the first 4 years, high-headed trees were larger than low-headed trees. After 7 years, open-vase trees had larger trunk cross-sectional area, tree spread, and canopy volume than central-leader trees. Open-vase trees had higher yield and crop value per tree, but lower yield and crop value per unit of land area or unit of canopy volume than central-leader trees. Crop density and yield efficiency were similar for all treatments.

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Richard P. Marini

Mature `Norman'peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] trees were dormant pruned to retain a range of fruiting shoots per tree (71 to 250) during 3 years from 1997 to 1999. About 40 days after bloom each year, fruits on all trees were thinned to similar crop loads, so only the number of fruits per shoot varied. Fruit set and number of fruits removed by hand thinning were positively related to number of fruiting shoots retained per tree. Number of fruits harvested per tree was not related to number of shoots per tree, whereas average fruit weight at thinning and at harvest, and crop value per tree were negatively related to the number of shoots retained per tree. These results indicate that commercial peach producers should consider modifying pruning and thinning strategies. Rather than retaining a large number of fruiting shoots per tree and hand thinning to distribute fruits every 15 to 20 cm along each fruiting shoot, producers should first determine the number of fruits that trees of a given cultivar can adequately size and then perform the thinning operation to obtain the desired crop load. The number of fruiting shoots retained per tree during pruning should be one-fifth to one-seventh of the number of fruits desired per tree, so that five to seven fruits per fruiting shoot are retained after hand thinning.

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Gabino Reginato, Terence Robinson, and Victor Garcia de Cortazar

Several field experiments to assess the effect of tree size and crop load on fruit size and yield were conducted in a `Ross' cling peach orchard and in three nectarine orchards of different harvest seasons in Chile. Trees were randomly selected in each orchard and then hand-thinned at the beginning of pit hardening to a wide range of crop loads. The fraction of above-canopy photosynthetically active radiation intercepted by the canopy (PARi) was determined at harvest and all fruits were counted, weighted, and average fruit weight calculated. Cropload and yield were expressed in terms of fraction of PARi. Data on farm gate prices for export fruit of different sizes and export dates were obtained from a Chilean export company. For each orchard, the relationship between cropload and fruit size or cropload and yield efficiency was assessed by regression analysis. Fruit size distribution was calculated from adjusted fruit size assuming a normal fruit size distribution and valued according to shipment date and price. Using crop load as a covariate, fruit size adjusted for cropload was calculated for each nectarine orchard. Differences in adjusted fruit size and yield efficiency were detected among cultivars. Predicted crop value, normalized in terms of PARi intercepted, was calculated for all the cultivars. Large differences in predicted crop value were found for early, mid-season, and late-ripening nectarines. The early and late ripening cultivars showed the highest predicted crop value, especially at lower crop loads and larger fruit sizes. On the other hand, `Ross' cling peach showed its highest crop value at a medium crop load with high yield and relatively small fruit size. (Funded by FONDECYT grant 1930695.)

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Amílcar M.M. Duarte, Amparo García-Luis, Rosa Victoria Molina, Consuelo Monerri, Vicente Navarro, Sergio G. Nebauer, Manuel Sánchez-Perales, and Jose Luis Guardiola

A winter gibberellic acid (GA3) spray consistently reduced flower formation, but had a variable effect on the amount of first-grade fruit in the early harvest of `Clausellina' satsuma (Citrus unshiu Marc.), and in the long term these applications had no significant effect on the value of the crop. Auxin applications increased the amount of first grade-early harvested fruit, and increased crop value as compared to hand-thinned trees. No significant differences in yield or fruit grade could be found among the different auxin applications tried, namely an application of 20 mg·L-1 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) at flowering, or applications of 25 mg·L-1 naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA), or 50 mg·L-1 2,4-dicholorophenoxypropionic acid (2,4-DP) at the end of fruitlet abscission. Apart from their effect on size, the auxin applications had only a marginal effect on fruit quality.

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William S. Castle

assessed by calculating crop value or total income/tree using Freight On Board (FOB) price data collected by the Florida Citrus Administrative Committee (< http://www.citrusadministrativecommittee.org/ >) for Indian River-grown white grapefruit packed in