Influence of Fruit Thinning and a Natural Plant Extract Biostimulant Application on Fruit Size and Quality of 'AU Golden Dragon', 'AU Golden Sunshine', and 'Hort16A' Kiwifruit
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Fruit thinning and the application of the natural biostimulant Benefit®Kiwi are expensive cultural practices, and the effectiveness of these practices on increasing fruit size of Actinidia chinensis cultivars grown in Alabama is not currently known. The influence of these two cultural practices on three kiwifruit cultivars namely ‘AU Golden Dragon’, ‘AU Golden Sunshine’, and ‘Hort-16A’ over two growing seasons were determined with regard to fruit size, quality, and marketability. Marketable yield of ‘AU Golden Dragon’ was not affected by Benefit®Kiwi applications or fruit thinning treatments. ‘AU Golden Sunshine’, the most prolific fruiting cultivar in this study, had higher marketable yield in response to fruit thinning, while its marketable yield was not affected by Benefit®Kiwi. Marketable yield of ‘Hort-16A’ was greater from the Benefit®Kiwi-treated plants. Due to variation in crop load observed, future research is needed to determine the exact efficacy of Benefit®Kiwi and fruit thinning on ‘Hort-16A’. Fruit quality of marketable fruit was not appreciably affected by fruit thinning or Benefit®Kiwi treatments. Although minimal thinning and application of Benefit®Kiwi are standard production practice for gold kiwifruit production in New Zealand, the effectiveness of these practices varies significantly for specific cultivars of A. chinensis cultivated under the present study. Results of this study further provide information regarding cultivation and production practices specific to the southeastern US.