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Optimizing Crop Load for New Apple Cultivar: “WA38”

Department of Horticulture, Tree Fruit and Research Extension Center (TFREC), Washington State University, 1100 N. Western Avenue, Wenatchee, WA 98801, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agronomy 2019, 9(2), 107;
Received: 24 January 2019 / Revised: 15 February 2019 / Accepted: 17 February 2019 / Published: 22 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Horticultural and Floricultural Crops)
PDF [1904 KB, uploaded 24 February 2019]


Crop load management is growing increasingly important as a factor related to biennial tendencies, post-harvest disorders, and inconsistent fruit quality in apples like “Honeycrisp”. Washington State University released a new apple cultivar, called “WA38”, in 2017. Limited literature is available about the productive characteristics of this new cultivar. An experimental trial evaluating the effect of crop load on leaf area, fruit quality, mineral composition, and return bloom of “WA38” was conducted for two consecutive years (2017 and 2018) to determine an optimal crop load. Trees were trained as a spindle and grafted on Malling-9 Nic29 (Nic29) rootstocks. Crop loads were adjusted to 2, 4, 6, and 8 fruits/cm2 of trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA). Crop load had a significant effect on production, with yields ranging from 28 to 83 MT/ha in 2017. Fruit quality was impacted by increasing crop load, with a reduction in fruit weight, soluble solid content, firmness, dry matter, titratable acidity, and a delay in maturity. Leaf-to-fruit ratios were higher in lower crop loads. Relatively consistent flower bud formation was seen at the 6 and 8 fruits/cm2 categories. A possible threshold for optimal fruit quality and consistent bloom was identified around 6 fruits/cm2 TCSA. View Full-Text
Keywords: leaf area; leaf-to-fruit ratio; source–sink; biennial bearing; mineral analysis leaf area; leaf-to-fruit ratio; source–sink; biennial bearing; mineral analysis

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Anthony, B.; Serra, S.; Musacchi, S. Optimizing Crop Load for New Apple Cultivar: “WA38”. Agronomy 2019, 9, 107.

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