- Fruits: peaches
- Crop Production: fertilizers, nutrient cycling, nutrient management
Fruit tree orchards are often fertilized following calendar-based fertilization programs instead of rational fertilization programs based on actual tree needs. Factors such as the ripening season or the amount of nutrients removed from the tree annually with management practices such as thinning, pruning, or harvesting are not often considered and consequently many peach orchards in the Southern U.S. are overfertilized. This project proposes to determine the amounts of nutrients lost by peach cultivars of different ripening seasons in all the nutrient removal events (pruning, thinning, harvest, and leaf fall) for estimating tree nutrional demands. Understanding crop demands would lead to recommendations that optimize orchard fertilization by maintaining a nutrient balance between inputs and outputs so that potential fruit yields are achieved while fertilizer application costs, labor costs (because of pruning of excessive vegetative growth), and environmental problems caused by overfertilization are reduced.
The goal of this project is to provide fertilization guidelines for peach growers in Southern U.S. that optimize efficiency of fertilization, reduce orchard costs, and environmental impact.
With this purpose, the following specific objectives are (1) to assess peach tree nutritional needs in six cultivars of three ripening seasons; and (2) to prepare guidelines for fertilization programs and disseminate results among growers, extension agents and researchers.