Submitted to: Hortscience Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 2001
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Peach tree size can be managed by pruning and by growing trees continuously with grass after planting, but the interactive effects of these cultural practices on yield are not well characterized. This research determined the effects of pruning intensity and grass competition on growth and yield of peach trees. Two cultivars ('Jersey Dawn' and 'Redskin' on 'Lovell' rootstock) of peach (Prunus persica (L.) Batsch) trees were planted in an orchard in 1993 and grown in weed-free row widths of 0.6 or 2.4 m. Beginning in 1995, trees were pruned to maintain canopy size with an open center (heavy pruning) or to maintain canopy size without an open center (light pruning). The experiment was a factorial design with grass competition, pruning intensity, and cultivar as main effects. Significant reductions in pruning weight and times were observed in trees grown in narrower weed-free rows and with light pruning. Trees of both cultivars that received light pruning and that grew in 2.4 m weed-free rows required approximately half the pruning time (5 min per tree) of heavy-pruned trees. From 1995 to 2000, trees grown with light pruning yielded 29 to 58% more marketable fruit (fruit diameter more than 5.7 cm) than heavy-pruned trees in the 2.4 m weed-free rows. Marketable fruit weight was 5 to 42% greater in light-pruned trees. Marketable fruit weight was approximately 51% lower in trees grown in 0.6 than 2.4 m weed-free rows. Yield efficiency was increased by light pruning, particularly in the narrower weed-free rows. The results indicate that peach tree pruning should be adapted to the intensity of grass competition in the orchard.