|Authors: ||M. Meland, E. Vangdal, C. Kaiser|
|Keywords: ||Prunus domestica, fruit set, blossom, fruit thinning, return bloom|
The European plum cultivar 'Opal', widely grown in Scandinavia, frequently initiates too many flowers and set too many fruits.
If excess fruitlets remain on the trees until harvest, the crop consists of small, unmarketable fruits of low fruit quality and return bloom will be reduced.
The current study investigated effects of different crop loads established at blossom and fruitlet stages on yield, fruit quality and return bloom.
For two seasons starting in 2008 on mature 'Opal'/'St.
Julien A' trees, two crop loads 50 and 25% flowers reduced were established at full bloom and at 10-12 mm fruitlet size and compared with an un-thinned control treatment.
Treatments were applied on single whole trees in a randomized complete block design with six replications.
Spindle trees spaced at 3.0×5.0 m were selected for uniformity in growth habit, flowering intensity and trunk cross sectional area.
Final fruit set varied from 63% on the control trees to 18% when thinned at bloom.
Yield was negatively correlated with the fruit set response.
Thinning at the fruitlet stage resulted in smaller fruits at the same crop level compared to flower thinning.
Fruit quality parameters characterized by bright yellow skin background colour, red surface colour and the concentrations of soluble solids increased significantly as the crop load was reduced.
Other fruit quality parameters like percentage acidity were not significantly different and did not show a clear response to the thinning.
Return bloom was promoted most when trees were thinned at bloom the year before.
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