More to biennial bearing than last year's crop load

alan haighApril 27, 2013

I've been in many different orchards this last week and the flower set of various species is better than I've ever seen. If the sites had been frosted out last year this would be expected, but most sites weren't hurt by last seasons May in March, April in April weather.

I've long suspected that a longer season allows the trees to store more energy, which is responsible for better flower show the next season, but I'm not sure this makes any sense, because the tree starts forming next year flowers early in the season and all the literature talks about needing to thin fruit very early to assure good set the following year.

But it this was literally true there would be no tip bearers as those flowers have to be formed later in the season. I remember a lecture given by a commercial grower I attended years ago in which he had very clear evidence that late season flower formation is a very important factor in next year's crop, but, unfortunately, I've forgotten what his evidence was.

I rely a great deal on hand thinning performed much later than proscribed timing to assure annual crops but I begin to believe that even late thinning must be helpful- anything that increases energy in the trees bank account must be.

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I thought chill hours have something to do with flowers as well? Low chill hours (well say, apples) means less buds=less fruit as far as I remember reading.

I guess one could assume how much time the buds had to go domant would be important as well. Generally speaking plants do better with a slow cool down, rather than *snap*, a seemingly instant one.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 8:30AM
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There have been peach studies done at Clemson that suggest that early thinning will result in larger fruit, but not necessarily more fruit buds the following year, as many people believe. I too have experienced more flowers on the 30 odd trees that I have, than last year, but I attributed this to an application of triple super phosphate in August and a March application of calcium nitrate. I don't see how late season flowering would improve next years crop, unless you're in a late season frost area, and the late season flowering could you get you past any late season frost.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 9:40AM
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As I see it the tree favors ripening the fruit over producing the buds for next years flowers. Leaving more fruit than the tree can support leads to poor flowing next year. If the conditions are favorable and the season is long, both the fruit and the buds will receive enough energy to avoid the alternate bearing, even if the thinning was not adequate. Al

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 9:46AM
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