An architectural analysis of pear cultivars grown under South African conditions and the relevance to local maintenance pruning strategies.

Cook, Nigel C. ; Du Plooy, Pierre (2005)

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To quantify the growth habit of locally important pear varieties, initially, 2- year-old pear branches were classified into groups based on the length and position of lateral shoots. Four groups were formed that ranged from cultivars with a spurred growth habit and strong apical control, to cultivars with a spreading growth habit and weak apical control. Secondly, the development of fruiting branches was observed for up to five years by observing the five developmental alternatives of the terminal buds of laterals, i.e., dormant, vegetative, reproductive without fruit, reproductive with fruit, and abortion. Under local conditions two general problems were observed. A large proportion of buds remain vegetative giving rise to poor flowering, and many buds remain dormant, probably due to the use of vigorous rootstocks and inadequate winter chilling. Local training systems address these shortcomings through the use of rest-breaking agents, girdling, and winter pruning techniques. Winter pruning strategies for locally important cultivars can be split into two broad approaches. In one approach spurs are renewed within spur systems primarily via bourse shoots. In the other approach spurs are renewed via year-old shoots. The motivation for the use of these systems is discussed in light of the above architectural findings.

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