Cost-Effective Asian Pear Thinning for Productivity and Fruit Quality
Asian pears are a valuable crop for urban-area farmers in the northeastern United States, but thinning trees for optimal fruit production and quality can be time consuming and expensive. Now, farmers have a more cost-effective option: A SARE-funded team of researchers and farmers showed that using a plant growth regulator can reduce hand-thinning costs by up to 50 percent while maintaining yield quality.
In three on-farm trials in New Jersey, the research team tested MaxCel, a chemical thinner that contains the growth regulator benzyladenine, for effectiveness, best application rates and cultivar sensitivity.
The team's findings and practical information for using MaxCel are presented in SARE's new fact sheet, Cost-Effective Asian Pear Thinning for Productivity and Fruit Quality. As a result of this work, led by Rutgers University Extension Specialist Daniel Ward, many Asian pear growers in New Jersey now use MaxCel to thin their crops, saving up to $2,000 per acre.
Download the fact sheet now.
While widely used in other fruit crops, chemical thinning methods had not been developed for Asian pears. The team focused on MaxCel because it is based on a discontinued growth regulator that had already been shown to effectively thin Asian pears. Also, MaxCel is used for other pear varieties.
While MaxCel greatly reduces the time spent hand-thinning in Asian pear production, and thus labor costs, some follow-up hand-thinning is still required. In addition, the fact sheet describes conditions that can cause MaxCel efficacy to vary, including environmental factors following application and tree-related factors such as overall health, bloom intensity and cultivar.
Already, there are more than 1,000 acres of Asian pears in the Northeast, with room for expansion now that this fruit has entered the mainstream market. Asian pear orchards that are high in productivity, fruit size and fruit quality can gross up to $40,000 per acre.