String blossom thinner designed for variable tree forms increases crop load management efficiency in trials in four united states peach-growing regions

T. Auxt Baugher, J. Schupp, K. Ellis, J. Remcheck, E. Winzeler, R. Duncan, S. Johnson, K. Lewis, G. Reighard, G. Henderson, M. Norton, A. Dhaddey, P. Heinemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Hand thinning is a necessary and costly management practice in peach (Prunus persica) production. Stone fruit producers are finding it increasingly difficult to find a workforce to manually thin fruit crops, and the cost of farm labor is increasing. A new hybrid string thinner prototype designed to adjust crop load in vase or angled tree canopies was evaluated in processing and fresh fruit plantings in varying production systems in four U.S. growing regions in 2009. Data were uniformly collected across regions to determine blossom removal rate, fruit set, labor required for follow-up green fruit hand thinning, fruit size distribution at harvest, yield, and economic impact. String thinner trials with the variable tree forms demonstrated reduced labor costs compared with hand-thinned controls and increased crop value due to a larger distribution of fruit in marketable and higher market value sizes. Blossom removal ranged from 17% to 56%, hand thinning requirement was reduced by 19% to 100%, and fruit yield and size distribution improved in at least one string-thinning treatment per experiment. Net economic impact at optimum tractor and spindle speeds was $462 to $1490 and $264 to $934 per acre for processing and fresh market peaches, respectively. Case study interviews of growers who thinned a total of 154 acres indicated that commercial adoption of string-thinning technology would likely have positiveimpacts on theworkplace environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-414
Number of pages6
JournalHortTechnology
Volume20
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Horticulture

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