The Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology
Vol. 79 No: 3
Individual and combined effects of shading and thinning chemicals on abscission and dry-matter accumulation of 'Royal Gala' apple fruit
S MCARTNEY, M WHITE, I LATTER and J CAMPBELL
Shade and chemical thinning treatments were applied to mature ´Royal Gala`/M.26 apple trees either alone or in combination to study their effects on the pattern of abscission and growth of spur fruit. Natural fruit drop occurred in two distinct waves in both years; the first wave peaked 20 d after bloom (DAB) at a weekly abscission rate of c 15&percent; in both years. The second wave of fruit drop in 2001 occurred earlier and was more intense than in the previous season. Application of NAA as a bloom thinner increased the maximum weekly abscission rate during the first wave of fruit drop in both years. Chemical fruit thinning treatments (Carbaryl in 2000, BA or delayed lime sulphur in 2001) had no effect on abscission or growth of spur fruit. Covering trees with 80&percent; shade cloth for 3 d (2000) or 5 d (2001) stimulated a wave of fruit abscission that peaked c 10-15 d after removal of the cloth. Shade during the period from 20-25 DAB stimulated more fruit drop than earlier shade treatments, resulting in weekly abscission rates as high as 70&percent;. There were no additive effects of combining thinning chemicals and shade treatments on abscission of fruit from spurs. However, additive effects of shade and thinning treatments were observed when measured as whole-tree crop density values, indicating that abscission of fruit from one-year wood was stimulated when low light conditions preceded application of (fruit) thinning chemicals. Shading trees from 34-39 DAB in 2000 resulted in a transient reduction and subsequent increase in the rate of dry-matter accumulation in fruit that were retained. Considerable challenges lie ahead in developing models of fruit growth that can account for the inter-dependent effects of light and crop load on fruit abscission and development that exist within an orchard environment.
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