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Effect of sod competition and root pruning on 'Stayman' apple tree growth and fruit cracking

Effect of sod competition and root pruning on 'Stayman' apple tree growth and fruit cracking

HortScience 30(2): 222-226

Three growth suppression treatments were compared during 1991 to 1993 on 'Stayman' apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) trees grown in the T-trellis and the MIA trellis systems. All treatments-root pruning, K-31 fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.), and K-31 fescue plus root pruning-suppressed tree growth compared to the nontreated control, but results were inconsistent between years and systems. Sod or sod plus root pruning reduced terminal shoot length in both systems in 2 out of 3 years. Root pruning decreased shoot length in the T-trellis in 1992. Sod decreased trunk cross-sectional area in the T-trellis in 1993. Treatments did not affect 3-year average yield efficiency but did appear to increase biennial bearing. Sod, with or without root pruning, decreased fruit cracking in the T-trellis 69% and 42%, respectively, in 1992, and sod plus root pruning decreased cracking in the MIA trellis 50%. Sod reduced fruit diameter in the T-trellis in 1992. Secondary effects of growth suppression treatments included increased light penetration and improved fruit color. Sod decreased leaf N and Mg and increased leaf P, K, and Cu. The Oct. 1993 stem water potential gradient from root to canopy was more negative in the sod plus root pruning treatment, and the osmotic potential of rootsucker leaves in the combination treatment was greater than in the control, indicating that sod plus root pruning alters the distribution of water within a fruit tree.

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