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Vertical distribution of crop load and fruit quality within vase- and Y-shaped canopies of ‘Elegant Lady’ peach


Canopy shape and depth may influence crop uniformity of peach trees at harvest. To test this hypothesis we examined yield distribution and fruit quality changes at different canopy levels of peach trees trained to delayed vase (DV) and perpendicular Y (Y). Trees of both training forms were divided vertically into six or seven 50-cm-deep layers and fruit was harvested at commercial ripening from each layer separately. Regardless of training form, number of fruit and yield per layer were highest in the central part of the canopy, but more evenly distributed among canopy layers in Y trees. In DV trees, fruit weight decreased linearly from top to bottom, whereas it remained constant along the top and middle portion of Y canopies to decrease rapidly at the bottom. In DV trees, 83% of the fruit fell into AAA, AA and A size categories, whereas fruit of Y trees was more evenly distributed among all size categories. Hue of fruit peel color increased linearly with distance from canopy top in both training forms, but more sharply in DV trees. Fruit soluble solid content decreased linearly from canopy top to bottom, regardless of training form. A more uniform crop load distribution within the canopy in combination with a light penetration gradient resulted in greater variability of quality parameters for Y than DV trees.