The increasing difference in the market value of small and larger sized ‘Conference’ pears (>65 mm) and the high labour costs for hand thinning, makes it interesting for growers to find a cheaper and reliable method for thinning pear trees. In 2007, 2008 and 2009 trials were carried out to test the thinning efficacy of several chemicals. Fruit set was only significantly reduced by a two-fold application of ammonium thiosulphate (ATS) or by a tankmix application of 6-benzyladenine (BA) and 1-naphtalene acetic acid (NAA). Unfortunately, russeting of ‘Conference’ pears was augmented by the treatments with ATS during bloom. Tankmix applications of NAA + BA, applied at an average fruit diameter of 8.8 mm, resulted in a severe overthinning of the trees in 2008. However, the same treatments applied at an average fruit diameter of 14.7 mm had much less of a thinning effect. In 2009 adequate thinning was obtained with lower concentrations of BA+NAA applied at 8-10 mm fruit diameter. Surprisingly, the reduction in fruit set by BA+NAA did not result in a proptional increase in the average fruit weight at harvest. In some treatments average fruit weight was even reduced compared to that of the hand-thinned trees, a size-reducing effect that was attributed to NAA. In conclusion, BA+NAA seems to thin ‘Conference’ pears more strongly than BA alone. However, the addition of NAA to BA has the disadvantage of a diminishing effect on the increment of fruit size, i.e. fruit size increased less than expected on basis of the reduction in crop load. Additional research will be carried out to further optimise the developmental stage, weather conditions, and concentrations at which a BA and NAA must be applied to obtain the desired level of thinning and gain in yield percentage of fruits over 65 mm in diameter.
|Publication status||Published - 2010|