Evaluation of Blossom Thinning Spray Timing Strategies in Apple

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In the eastern USA and several other apple-growing regions, apple blossom thinning using lime sulfur is a relatively new crop load management strategy. This study sought to evaluate how application timing of lime sulfur + stylet oil blossom thinning sprays would influence thinning efficacy and crop safety of ‘Gala’ apples. This project occurred at two locations in the USA, Winchester, Virginia, and Mills River, North Carolina, during the 2019 growing season. Two main timing strategies were assessed: (1) model-guided sprays with the pollen tube growth model (PTGM), (2) fixed spray intervals with the first spray applied at a specified percentage of open bloom (20% vs. 80%), and the second spray applied at a reapplication interval (48 h vs. 72 h). Model-guided and 20% open bloom + 48-h treatments reduced fruit set and increased fruit weight, diameter, and length at both sites. Treatments with a delayed first spray at 80% open bloom or a more extended second reapplication of 72 h were generally ineffective. There was no conclusive evidence that lime sulfur + stylet oil blossom thinning spray timing influenced russet incidence/severity or leaf phytotoxicity. This study demonstrated that effective and safe blossom thinning can be obtained from applying two sprays at 20% open bloom and 48 h thereafter or using the PTGM.




Allen, W.C.; Kon, T.; Sherif, S.M. Evaluation of Blossom Thinning Spray Timing Strategies in Apple. Horticulturae 2021, 7, 308.