The Influence of the Tree Form and Crop Load on Peach Tree Growth, Beginning of Cropping and Fruit Quality
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Three different tree forms with four different crop load were studied in peach 'Royal Glory'. Trees were grafted on peach seedling and planted as "sleeping eyes" in 2006. Planting spacing was 4 m between the rows and 2 m in the row (1250 trees/ha). The following tree forms were made: 1) 'Perpendicular Y' with two scaffolds orientated transversally to the row direction, 2) 'Parallel Y' with two scaffolds oriented in the row direction and 3) 'slender spindle' with one axis. Each of the tree forms had the following crop load: one fruit per cm(2) trunk cross sectional area (TCA), two fruits per cm(2) TCA, three fruits per cm(2) TCA and four fruits per cm(2) TCA. Cropping started in 2008 (third leaf). The lowest yield per hectare and fruit weight were recorded in the trees grown in 'Parallel Y', while the highest yield and fruit weight were obtained by slender spindle trees. The latter was not significantly different from 'Perpendicular Y'. 'Slender spindle' also had the highest vegetative ...growth, expressed through annual increase in TCA, so tree shape did not have an influence on the index of productivity. In all tree forms, yield increased together with crop load, while the fruit weight decreased with crop load. Tree crop load influenced the time of ripening. It was observed that the fruits on trees which had one or two fruits per cm(2) TCA ripened earlier, so the optimal harvest period was shorter. The examined factors did produce a significant effect on soluble solids and total acid concentration in the fruit juice.