Main content area

Time of pruning affects fruit abscission, stem carbohydrates and yield of macadamia

McFadyen, Lisa, Robertson, David, Sedgley, Margaret, Kristiansen, Paul, Olesen, Trevor
Functional plant biology 2012 v.39 no.6 pp. 481-492
Macadamia integrifolia, canopy, carbohydrates, carbon, cultivars, flowering, fruit drop, fruit set, fruits, hybrids, orchards, photosynthesis, pruning, stems, tree yields, trees, Australia
Macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia Maiden and Betche, M. tetraphylla Johnson and hybrids) orchards in Australia are typically hedged around anthesis (September). Such hedging reduces yields, largely through competition for carbohydrates between early fruit set and the post-pruning vegetative flush, but also through a reduction in photosynthetic capacity caused by the loss of canopy. We examined whether hedging at other times might mitigate yield losses. Hedging time was found to affect yields across four cultivars: ‘A4’, ‘A38’, ‘344’ and ‘816’. Yield losses were lower for trees hedged in November–December than for trees hedged in September. Yields for trees hedged in June were higher than for trees hedged in September in one experiment, but were similar in a second experiment. Yield losses for September and October hedging were similar. Hedging time changed the pattern of fluctuations in stem water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC). WSC declined shortly after hedging in September, October or November, and the declines preceded increases in fruit abscission relative to unpruned control trees. The increase in fruit abscission was less pronounced for the trees hedged in November, consistent with the idea that fruit become less sensitive to carbon limitation as they mature.