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Effects of mulch treatments on lateral branching of sweet cherry trees

Murat Şahin1, Ahmet Eşitken1, Lütfi Pirlak1


1
Faculty of Agriculture, Selçuk University, Konya, Turkey(muratsahin@selcuk.edu.tr)

Summary
In this study, the effects of mulch treatments on branching of cherry trees which treated
perlan (GA4+7+BA) were investigated. In sweet cherry cv. 0900 Ziraat grafted on Mazzard,
black and clear polyethylene mulch were used as material. Plants were planted as 3 replicates
and there were 8 saplings per replicates. Mulch materials were applied at the end of March
and perlan was applied when the plants height reached to 50 cm. The data were obtained in
November and the results were analyzed with SPSS.
Plant height, stem diameter, branching height, numbers, lengths, diameters and angles of
lateral branches were investigated and results were found statistically significant. In this
study, black mulch+perlan (BM+P) treatment was found the most effective in terms of all
features. It was obtained to 4.09 lateral branch, 35.10o branch angle, 27.4 cm in length, 5.36
mm in diameter by BM+P treatment. Although clear mulch+perlan (CM+P) treatment and
control plants took place in same group (CM+P: 2.50 and C: 2.59 per plant) in terms of the
number of branches, CM+P treatment was found outstanding other branching features.
As a result, it can be stated that BM+P treatment providing formation of well-developed and
a lot of lateral branches may be useful.
Key words: Sweet cherry, perlan, lateral branching and mulch

Introduction
At the present time, fruit production should begin as early as possible for the return of
investment cost. For this goal, tree canopy is a very important factor for high yielding and
quality during the first few years. To this end, farmers demand well feathered nursery trees
when starting up (Quinlan, 1980; Edgerton, 1983). On the other hand, some fruit trees do
not branch easily, at the proper height and first age (Jacyna, 2001).

The ability to form lateral branches is associated with species and cultivars of fruit trees
(Wertheim, 1978). The cause of this difference between species and cultivars is mainly
apical dominance. This fundamental factor is controlled by the interaction of endogenous
growth regulator (Auxins and gibberellins) (Abbas, 1978; Joustra, 1989; Neri et al., 2004).
Furthermore, lateral branching may be affected by some other factors such as cultural
treatments, nursery and environmental conditions etc. One of the environmental factors is
soil temperature. This factor increase root formation and growth. Thus, increasing the
amount of root increases the cytokinin production which has important influence on lateral
branching (Abbas et al., 1980; Tromp, 1992a; Tromp, 1992b; Tromp, 1996).

Prunus avium L. illustrates very strong apical dominance especially in young trees (Elfving
and Visser, 2007). If any treatment isn’t made, the possibility of obtaining unbranched trees
are quite high (Jacyna and Puchala, 2004). To this end, there are many treatments
(disbudding, deblading, notching, Benziyladenine (BA), gibberellic acid isomers (GA),
perlan, etc.) to branch of young cherry trees. Many researchers reported that perlan and
promalin treatments promoted lateral branching in young cherry trees (Neri et al., 2004;
Jacyna and Puchala, 2004; Elfving and Visser, 2007; Koyuncu and Yıldırım, 2008;
Bennewitz et al., 2008; Shimizu-Sato et al., 2009; Bektaş and Ersoy, 2010; Yıldırım et al.,
2010). At the same time, there are some studies about soil temperature which increase lateral
branching in nursery at first age of nursery plants (Tromp, 1992a; Tromp, 1992b; Tromp,
1996).

In this study, the effect of soil temperature (by using mulches) and perlan on lateral
branching in sweet cherry plants was investigated.

Materials and Methods


This study was carried out at Research and Application Orchard of Department of
Horticulture, Faculty of Agriculture at Selçuk University in 2013. In this study, effects of
mulch (black and clear) and perlan (% 18.5 GA4+7+ % 18.8BA, Sumitomo) treatments on
branching of 0900 Ziraat sweet cherry cultivar grafted on Mazzard (P. avium) were
investigated. With this aim, black and clear mulch (at the end of March) and 600 ppm perlan
were applied to 50 cm height cherry saplings applied together. Perlan treatment was sprayed
to top of the extended shoots two times with three days intervals with hand pump to all
plants.

Young plants was planted in February which has one grafted bud on Mazzard. Tree spacing
was 90 cm between rows and 30 cm in-row. Fertilization, irrigation, pest and weed control
has been regularly. The treatments are;

1. Control (just with 600 ppm perlan)


2. Black mulch (with 600 ppm perlan)
3. Clear (transparent) mulch (with 600 ppm perlan)
At end of November, tree trunk diameter (5 cm over the graft), plant height (from the
ground), number of lateral branches (longer than 10 cm), length of lateral branches (from
the tree trunk), diameter of lateral branches (1 cm beyond the tree trunk), angle of lateral
branches (between the lateral branches and tree trunk), height of branching (from the ground
to first branch), diameter of root collar (just over the first root), wet weight of root
(downward the root collar), dry weight of root, wet weight of vegetative parts (upward the
root collar) and dry weight of vegetative parts were investigated.

Experimental design was a complete randomized design with 10 plants in a replication (3


replication for an treatment: 30 plants for an treatment).

The experimental data were collected and subjected to analysis of variance using SPSS
(IBM) 23.0 program. The means were separated by multiply Duncans test at P = 0.95.

Results and Discussion


Average of Soil Temperatures (ST): CM+P treatment has shown the highest soil
temperature The highest AST was shown by CM+P treatment followed by BM+P treatment.
Mulch treatments AST were higher than average of air temperature and AST of control.

Plant Height and Diameter: For all studied treatment was characterized by nearly same
plant height. Nevertheless, plant height for black mulch+perlan (BM+P) treatment was
higher statistically than other treatments with 117.84 cm. Other treatments provided similar
plant height and were listed same statistical group with 108.29 cm (control) and 109.21 cm
(clear mulch+perlan: CM+P). In the plant diameter BM+P treatment was provided thickest
plant trunk diameter with 16.68 mm. While second thickest plant trunk diameter provided
CM+P treatment, the lowest plant trunk diameter was provided in perlan treatment (Control).

Figure 1. Soil and air temperatures (oC) with relative humidity (%) by months in 2013.
70.00

60.00

50.00

40.00

30.00
Control ST
20.00 CM+P ST
Air Temperature
10.00
BM+P ST
0.00 Relative Humidity (%)
Sept
Mar Aug Oct
April May June July emb
ch ust ober
er
Control ST 9.73 12.0518.5221.1922.1521.5519.1213.13
CM+P ST 11.1215.0821.9124.9526.3725.4422.5015.18
Air Temperature 11.2511.7018.1521.2622.9123.3818.6511.16
BM+P ST 10.1113.0219.9622.9124.5324.3721.3514.19
Relative Humidity (%)59.52750.4 36.4 37.75 39 49.2 57.95 35.8

As BM+P treatment has many positive results on branch induction, but also on plant height.
But, while CM+P treatment effected branching features positively, plant height was
unaffected positively by CM+P treatment. Similarly, Tromp (1996) was found that
increasing soil temperature at the early stage of plant growth improves plant height but, high
soil temperatures at the late of plant growth period does not affect plant height effectively.
While CM+P treatment increased soil temperature highly at the late of plant growth period,
BM+P treatment did not increase very much.

As in plant height BM+P treatment increased plant diameter positively. There have been
good results in the CM+P treatment to. Both of these treatments increased plant diameter
positively according to control treatment. There have been many study on effect of branching
treatments on plant diameter. Some of them reported that branching treatments (especially
perlan and promalin) affected plant height and diameter in different ways. While some
studies reported that branching treatments do not affect of plant height and diameter (Baldini
et al., 1973; Quinlan and Preston, 1973; Cody et al., 1985; Keever et al., 1993; Rossi et al.,
2004; Bektaş, 2010; Eren, 2012), some others reported that branching treatments affected
plant height and diameter positively (Bektaş, 2010; Koyuncu and Yıldırım, 2008).
Additionally, Hrotko et al. (1996) report that branching treatments decreases plant height
and Gürz (2005) reports that branching treatments affected plant height and diameter
differently depending on species and cultivars.

Height of First Branching (HFB): For all studied treatments was characterized by different
HFB and treatments was listed different statistical group. BM+P treatment with 58.21 cm
branching height has been first statistical group showing highest HFB. It followed by control
with 52.84 cm HFB. The lowest HFP was seen in CM+P treatment with 50.60 cm branching
height.

According to Barrit (1992) and Volz et al. (1994) HFB should be 50 cm for fruit trees. There
are some studies associated with HFB. Tiberon (cyclanilide) treatments reduced HFB in
some apple cultivars (Sazo and Robinson, 2011) and it may be caused by high branching.
On the contrary, promalin treatments (100, 250, 500, 750 and 1000 ppm) increased HFB to
control and cutting (apical parts) treatments. In this study, while BM+P treatment increased
HFB, CM+P treatment has decreased to control. It may be caused by high soil temperature
at the early growth stages in CM+P treatment.

Table 1. Effects of branching treatments on some plant characteristics.


Treatments Plant Height (cm) Plant Diameter (mm) Height of First
Branching (cm)
Control (with 600 108.29b 12.43c 52.84b
ppm perlan)
Black Mulch (with 117.84a 16.68a 58.21a
600 ppm perlan)
Clear Mulch (with 109.21b 15.14b 50.60c
600 ppm perlan)

Number of Lateral Branches (NLB): For all studied treatments was characterized by
different NLB. While BM+P treatment was showing the highest branching with 4.09
branches per tree, CM+P and Control treatments have shown low NLB and was listed same
statistical group with 2.59 (Control) and 2.50 (CM+P) branches per tree.

Effects of perlan treatment on branching is well-established topic for many years. There are
many studies on branching with use perlan and many of them report that perlan increase
lateral branching. Studies were carried out especially over difficult branching fruit trees like
apple, pear and sweet cherry (Cody et al., 1985; Greene and Autio, 1994; Jacyna et al., 1994;
Ouellette and Young, 1994; Volz et al., 1994; Wertheim and Estabrooks, 1994; Tromp,
1996; Gastol and Poniedzialek, 2003; Elfving and Visser, 2005; Ongaro and Leyser, 2008;
Shimizu-Sato et al., 2009; Veit, 2009; Bennewitz et al., 2010; Bektaş and Ersoy, 2010;
Yıldırım et al., 2010; Sazo and Robinson, 2011). At the same time, Tromp (1992a; 1992b;
1996) reports that soil temperatures ‘especially early growth period’ and high relative
humidity increase sylleptic shoot growth length per tree. The results in this study were
similar in other studies which was aforementioned. Branch numbers increasing with perlan
treatments have increased more with mulch treatments because of increased soil
temperature. In CM+P treatment branching was found same with control. It may be caused
high soil temperature at late growth period. According the Tromp (1996) high soil
temperatures and low relative humidity at late growth period do not affect branching well.

Length of Lateral Branches (LLB): In LLB, treatments was listed different statistical
group. The highest LLB was obtained by BM+P treatment with 27.42 cm lateral branches
length followed by CM+P treatment with 25.13 cm LLB. However, control treatment have
shown the lowest LLB with 21.79 cm.
Table 2. Effects of branching treatments on some branching characteristics.
Treatments Number of Length of Lateral Diameter of Angle of
Lateral Branches Branches (cm) Lateral Lateral
Branches (mm) Branches (o)
Control 2.59b 21.79c 3.95c 25.90c
a a a
Black 4.09 27.42 5.36 35.10a
Mulch
Clear Mulch 2.50b 25.13b 5.11b 32.57b

Some of studies reported that branching treatments ‘like perlan, promalin and other plant
growth regulators’ increase (Bennewitz et al., 2010; Yıldırım et al., 2010), decrease (Sazo
and Robinson, 2011) average LLB or there is not any effect of plant growth regulators on
average LLB (Cody et al., 1985). But, considering total length of lateral branches, plant
growth regulators increase total LLB. At the same time, Tromp (1996) reported that high
soil temperature increase the total LLB. In this present study similar results have been
determined with Tromp (1996). Although in CM+P treatment soil temperature was higher
than BM+P treatment, average LLB was found lower. It may be caused by too high soil
temperature at middle of growth period.

Diameter of Lateral Branches (DLB): For all studied treatments were characterized by
different DLB and treatments was listed different statistical group. The highest DLB was
showed by BM+P treatment with 5.36 mm lateral branches diameter. It followed by CM+P
treatment with 5.11 mm and the lowest DLB was shown by control with 3.95 mm. In DLB,
treatments have shown similar results like LLB and it may be caused by mulch treatments
because of their positive growth effects on lateral branches.

Angle of Lateral Branches (ALB): In ALB, treatments was listed different statistical group
and the highest ALB was showed by BM+P treatment. It followed by CM+P treatment with
32.57o and the lowest ALB was shown by control treatment.

While some studies reports that plant growth regulators increase ALB (Williams and
Billingsley, 1970; Cody et al., 1985; Faust, 1989; Gürz, 2005; Volz et al., 1994; Elfving and
Visser, 2005; Bektaş and Ersoy, 2010; Yıldırım et al., 2010), some others suggest that they
decrease it (Plich and Jankiewcz, 1973; Cody et al., 1985; Cmelik and Tojnka, 2005; Sazo
and Robinson, 2011). For all that ALB can be affected by consentrations of plant growth
regulators like benzyladenine (Wertheim and Estabrooks, 1994). However, in this present
study ALB has been found much higher in BM+P treatment than control. ALB may be
increased by mulch treatment.

Conclusions
Mulch treatments have a high potential on production of high quality fruit tree saplings. They
also have organic agriculture potential by providing reduce use of chemical branching
matters. With use of mulch materials ‘especially black one’ well-branched and high quality
fruit saplings can be produced. According to Tromp (1996), high soil temperatures at middle
and late growth period do not affect lateral branching. In the present study it was determined
that high soil temperatures at middle and late growth stage can affect lateral branching
negatively. In the future, a new study with mulch and other branching materials can be
performed by using only at early growth stage.
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