vivipary can occur when green shucks fail to dehisce, and is often associated with high humidity between the shell and shuck and high air temperatures during ripening ( Sparks et al., 1995 ). Mechanical fruit thinning has been used as a tool to minimize the
In South Africa and elsewhere in the world, the use of synthetic plant growth regulators (PGRs) as chemical fruit-thinning agents is a common cultural practice of citrus fruit production to increase fruit size and other important quality attributes
). Successful implementation of minimal or machine pruning in vineyards often requires hand follow-up or fruit thinning to achieve desired fruit maturity and composition ( Fendinger et al., 1996 ; Fisher et al., 1996a , 1996b ; Morris, 2005 ; Petrie and
‘Schley’ pecan [Carya illinoensis (Wang.) K. Koch] fruit were selectively thinned within one week after treatment with (2-chloroethyl)phosphonic acid (ethephon) without causing leaf abscission. A concentration range of 25, 50, 75, 100, 150, and 200 ppm caused progressive and selective fruit thinning ranging from 25 to 75%, depending upon concentration and fruit age. Fruit treated when at 4-mm diameter (June 15) were more heavily thinned at the same rate than fruit at 12-mm diameter (July 15). Leaf abscission occurred at rates of 300 ppm or greater on each treatment date. Ethephon levels had no effect on return bloom or fruit set.
Influence of various concentrations of hydrogen cyanamide (HC) on fruit thinning of `Rome Beauty' apple (Malus domestica Borkh.), `Friar,' and `Simka' plums (Prunus salicina Lindley) were studied. A full bloom application of HC at all tested concentrations decreased `Rome Beauty' apple fruit set and yield, and increased fruit weight. Hydrogen cyanamide at 0.25% (V/V) resulted in adequate apple thinning, indicated by the production of an ideal fruit weight. Prebloom and full bloom applications of HC at greater than 0.75% reduced plum fruit set and yield in `Friar.' Full bloom application of HC at 0.25% to 0.50% showed a satisfactory fruit set, yield, and fruit size in `Friar' plum. Full bloom application decreased fruit set and yield in `Simka' plum. Hand thinning, as well as chemical thinning, is recommended for plums.
Influence of prebloom and full bloom applications of hydrogen cyanamide on `Simka' and `Friar' plums in Southwest Idaho and `Florda Prince' peach in Southwest Arizona was studied. Prebloom application of 0.5% hydrogen cyanamide caused severe toxicity to the fruit buds in `Friar' lure, while 2% hydrogen cyanamide did not cause toxicity in `Simka' plum. `Simka' fruit was effectively thinned with 1-2% prebloom application. At full bloom, 1.5% hydrogen cyanamide caused severe flower and leaf burning in both `Friar' and `Simka' plums, while concentrations between 0.1% and 1% thinned flowers (fruits) in both of the plum cultivars. Influence of hydrogen cyanamide on final fruit set, fruit size and maturity are also studied. Prebloom or full bloom applications of 2% or 3% hydrogen cyanamide eliminated 95 to 100% of the blooms, while application of this chemical at 1% sufficiently thinned the fruit. Number of commercially packed large peaches in trees receiving 1% hydrogen cyanamide was the same as that in trees thinned by hand, suggesting hydrogen cyanamide as a potential chemical for stone fruit thinning.
Experiments were carried out for 3 years on `Gala' and `Fuji' apple cultivars. The efficacy of the compounds applied during blooming (ATS, Armothin) and at 10 mm king fruit diameter (BA, CPPU, and NAA) was studied. Results showed a poor efficacy of the chemicals applied during bloom, while compounds applied at fruit set showed interesting results. Among the new chemicals, citokinins were the most effective, although their effects were related to the cultivar: BA performs better than CPPU on `Fuji' while vice versa on `Gala'. In addition, both chemicals induced a slightly higher °Brix content, and acidity level showed the tendency to increase L/D ratio of the fruits as compared to controls. Fruit thinning and the strategies to enhance fruit size are applied early in the season and the problem remains, to assess their effectiveness as early as possible in order to adapt the management techniques (e.g., further thinning, if applicable, or fine-tuning of nutrition and irrigation, etc.) to enable the fruit to reach their maximum potential development. A modelling approach proposed by Lakso et al. (1995) postulates that apples grow in weight according to an equation termed “expolinear” (Goudriaan and Monteith, 1990) because after an initial phase of exponential growth (cell division), the apple enters a phase of linear growth (cell expansion) lasting up to harvest. The effectiveness of a thinning agent can therefore be evaluated-and explained-in terms either of the number of cells of the cortex tissue, or of their volume, or both. In addition, assessing the slope of the linear phase as early as possible might provide a prediction tool to evaluate size at harvest. This paper presents data from apple thinning trials on several cultivars. The effectiveness of these applications has been evaluated via an analysis of the cell parameters (number, volume and intercellular spaces) of the fruit's parenchyma cortex tissue. Also, fruit growth data have been used to test the possibility to predict fruit size at harvest once the fruit reaches the phase of linear growth.
In the laboratory, sections from leaves of peach [Prunus persica (L) Batsch. cv. Lovell] were treated with chemicals previously reported to have potential as peach fruit thinning agents. The resultant evolution of ethylene from the treated leaves was compared with the amount of peach fruit thinning by the same chemicals. A positive correlation exists between the level of ethylene evolution and the amount of fruit thinning by the chemicals tested.
Pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) C. Koch] fruit were thinned from `Mohawk' trees in Oklahoma and `Giles' trees in Kansas with a mechanical trunk shaker. All trees bore an excessive crop load before shaking. Fruit thinning improved the kernel percentage, individual nut weight, and kernel grade of `Mohawk', but nut characteristics of `Giles' were not affected by fruit thinning. Cold injury, caused by a sudden temperature drop in November, was positively related to the percentage of fruiting shoots in both cultivars. Fruit set in 1992 was negatively related to the percentage of fruiting shoots in 1991 in both cultivars. Consistent annual fruit set could be induced in `Giles' by fruit thinning, but return fruit set in `Mohawk', even at high levels of thinning, was low. Fruit thinning reduced yield the year of thinning in both cultivars. Thus, `Mohawk' trees should be thinned so that 50% to 60% of shoots bearing fruit at mid-canopy height would remain, and `Giles' trees should be thinned similarly to 65% to 70%.
Hundreds of fruit thinning experiments have been reported for various fruits including apple (Malus × domestica) and citrus (Citrus spp.). Unfortunately, very few of these reports attempt to evaluate the economic implications of thinning. Researchers routinely report significant cropload reduction accompanied by an increase in fruit size. Although these are crucial responses to thinning, they are not always associated with an increase in crop value, which is the commercial justification for thinning. The few economic studies summarized in this review illustrate that the economic effects of fruit thinning vary widely, and successful thinning often reduces returns to the grower, at least in the year of treatment. It is important to quantify the economic benefits of thinning and identify croploads that balance the trade-off between yield and fruit size to provide optimal crop value. Future thinning research should report total yields and fruit size distributions to permit economic assessments and comparisons of treatments.