Inhibition of Flower Bud Initiation and Development in Apple by Defoliation, Gibberellic Acid and Crop Load Manipulation
Davis, David Evan
MetadataShow full item record
Biennial bearing has been investigated longer and more extensively in apple than in any other fruit tree; however, it remains a serious problem in commercial apple production all over the world. Trees that have become biennial flower profusely and carry a heavy crop in the "on" year, and flower sparsely or not at all and carry little or no crop the following year, the "off" year. Fruit in the "on" year tend to be small, poorly colored, and of low quality, while the few fruit in the "off" year are usually too large, become susceptible to physiological disorders, and also are of poor quality. Without intervention, the crops in both the "on" and "off" years are undesirable and uneconomical. The most common method used by commercial apple growers to try to prevent biennial bearing is chemical fruit thinning, which is an "on" year method of removing a part of the crop before it matures on the tree. In general, growers don't do anything in the "off" year to prevent biennial bearing with the exceptions of fertilizing and pruning lightly. In this study, several experiments were conducted with the cultivars "Braeburn", "Golden Delicious", "Ramey York", and "Fuji" in the "off" year to try and suppress FBI and thus prevent a biennial bearing situation in the following year. The first set of experiments studied the effect of whole-tree and partial-tree defoliation on suppressing spur and lateral flowering and fruit set. Flowering and fruit set were suppressed with defoliation in most cases. Defoliation in early July caused the least amount of flowering the following year and in some cases it was zero. As the defoliation timing and severity was delayed, there was less suppression of flowering and fruit set. Ammonium thiosulfate and Endothal increased flowering but decreased fruit set compared to a control. Gramoxone suppressed flowering and fruit set. In another set of experiments, gibberellic acid (GA) treatments were evaluated to suppress FBI in "off" or light crop years. The GA4+7 treatments suppressed return bloom of both spur and lateral flowers more than the GA3 treatments. The effectiveness of GA declined with delayed application. Both GA treatments reduced lateral flowering the most on the basal 1/3 of the shoot. In a four year study, apple trees were thinned to one fruit per flowering cluster every year from 1997 to 2000. Other trees were thinned to zero fruit or two fruit per flowering cluster in alternate years from 1997 to 2000. Trees thinned to one fruit per flowering cluster had moderate flowering and fruit set the following year. Trees thinned to two fruit per flowering cluster had very little to no flowering the following year. Trees thinned to zero fruit per flowering cluster had a "snowball" bloom the following year. Trees that were alternately thinned to two or zero fruit per flowering cluster were in a biennial bearing situation.
- Doctoral Dissertations