Research from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is focused on answering the question ‘How can computer modeling help growers decide when it’s best to start thinning?’
Project leader Michael Basedow, a Cornell Extension tree fruit specialist: “Thinning apples at bloom is an orchard practice with the greatest potential to increase apple size for the current year’s harvest as well as to promote a return bloom the next year.”
Basedow’s research centers on the use of computerized modeling to determine when growers should thin, to allow the trees to produce apples of optimal quality and size, and in numbers that also allow the trees to efficiently bloom again the next year. The pollen tube growth model estimates the amount of time between pollination and fertilization of apple flowers to help growers plan for a first thinning application.
“Bloom thinning is a promising approach for managing crop load and is used extensively by apple growers in Washington state, but it is a difficult practice to perform as it requires precise timing of the thinning material applications,” Basedow told farmprogress.com.