Dwarfing rootstocks and training systems affect initial growth, cropping and nutrition in 'Skeena' sweet cherry

Citation

Neilsen, D., Neilsen, G.H., Forge, T. and Lang, G.A. 2016. Dwarfing rootstocks and training systems affect initial growth, cropping and nutrition in 'Skeena' sweet cherry. Acta Hort. (ISHS) 1130:199-206

Plain language summary

There is increased interest in sweet cherry production systems that bear fruit within 2 years of planting, are very productive and reduce labour costs. Fruit trees grafted on to rootstocks that control tree size fulfill thee requirements. These considerations can also be helped by pruning and training trees in new ways. Three training systems, single trunk, bush and multi- stem were combined with three rootstocks of differing abilities to control tree size. The area of leaves per each fruit required to produce large high quality fruit was found to be around 200 square cm. The most dwarfing of the rootstocks had fewer fruit and lower yields and this was associated with a reduced ability to take up water from the soil and to photosynthesize.

Abstract

There is increased interest in sweet cherry production systems that improve precocity and productivity and reduce labour costs. In 2010, 'Skeena' sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) was planted on three size-controlling rootstocks, Gisela 3, 5, 6, in factorial combination with three training systems: central leader axe (Tall Spindle Axe), planar multi-stemmed (Upright Fruiting Offshoots) and bush (Kym Green Bush) in a randomized complete block design with six replicates. Trees were spaced at 1.5×4 m and received daily drip irrigation scheduled to meet 100% ET. Nutrients (N, P, K, B) were supplied through fertigation. Tree growth, trunk cross-sectional area, (TCSA) and canopy leaf area, and cumulative yield 2012-2014 were unaffected by training system. Gisela 3 had smaller TCSA (33%, 41%) and canopy leaf area (35%, 43%) than Gisela 5 and 6 trees respectively. Gisela 3 trees had lower fruit numbers and cumulative yield than Gisela 5 and Gisela 6 trees. Fruit size was unaffected by treatment but decreased rapidly when leaf area/fruit was <200 cm2. Crop loads >22 fruit per cm-2 TCSA were required to produce high quality fruit of 11 g (28 mm). Reduced growth in Gisela 3 trees, was associated with lower stomatal conductance, stem water potential and possibly, lower uptake of less-mobile nutrients, P and K.

Publication date

2016-12-09

Author profiles