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Optimization of Light Interception, Leaf Area and Yield in “WA38”: Comparisons among Training Systems, Rootstocks and Pruning Techniques

Department of Horticulture, Tree Fruit and Research Extension Center (TFREC), Washington State University, 1100 N. Western Avenue, Wenatchee, WA 98801, USA
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Agronomy 2020, 10(5), 689; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10050689
Received: 31 March 2020 / Revised: 7 May 2020 / Accepted: 9 May 2020 / Published: 13 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Horticultural and Floricultural Crops)
As apple orchards have transitioned to high-density plantings, proper training systems are required to manage increased leaf area. Leaf area index (LAI) is defined as the ratio between leaf area to ground area (m2/m2) and can infer orchard health, light relationships and productivity. New technologies enable rapid assessments of LAI and light interception (LI) in the orchard. In this study, LAI, LI, and productivity were assessed across two training systems (Spindle and V), two rootstocks (Geneva 41® (G41) and Malling 9—Nic29 (Nic29)) and two pruning techniques (“click” and bending) in 2016 and 2017. The objective of this study was to determine a management strategy for “WA38” to meet optimal levels for LAI (1.2–2.0) and light interception (65–75%). Higher light interception was measured in V compared to Spindle and in G41 compared to Nic29 in both years. Minimal differences in LAI and light interception were detected across pruning techniques. In “WA38” the “click” technique maintained more consistent yields than bending. In both years, the Spindle-Nic29-“click” combination maintained optimal thresholds for LAI (1.93 and 1.48), light interception (66% and 68%) and consistent yields. This sequence helps mitigate “blind wood” and alternate bearing, while optimizing leaf area and light in “WA38”. View Full-Text
Keywords: leaf area index; light penetration; Cosmic Crisp®; blind wood; type IV habit; click pruning; bending leaf area index; light penetration; Cosmic Crisp®; blind wood; type IV habit; click pruning; bending
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Anthony, B.; Serra, S.; Musacchi, S. Optimization of Light Interception, Leaf Area and Yield in “WA38”: Comparisons among Training Systems, Rootstocks and Pruning Techniques. Agronomy 2020, 10, 689.

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