Pg. 14-18 Management Strategies to Maximise Light Utilisation, Control Growth and Initiate Flowering in a Litchi Orchard

Young litchi trees can be trained to single or multiple leader trees with wider and stronger crotch angle branches and horizontal shoots. Cincturing of main stems and planting trees at 5 x 3m increases the yield of a five-year-old orchard compared to the more traditional 10 x 6m plantings. The effect of various growth inhibitors on flowering and yield is being assessed. The following growth inhibitors were tested during the 1998 season: 1% Sunny, 0.5% Sunny, 0.2% CCC plus 1’ Ethephon, 0.2% CCC plus’ Ethephon, and 1’ Ethephon. Growth inhibitors affected flowering significantly. The productivity of the Sunny treated trees was higher than that of the control and the Ethephon-treated trees initially had a good fruit set but a bigger fruit drop eventually resulted in a slightly smaller crop than the control.

In orchards where trees have filled their allotted space, growth inhibitors, cincturing and water stress can be used to control vegetative growth and stimulate flowering after pruning. It is important to develop a management program to force pruned trees into bearing the following season. Pruning on its own, however, is not an option.

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