Privé, J-P., Russell, L. and LeBlanc, A. 2011. Impact of reflective groundcover on growth, flowering, yield and fruit quality in Gala apples in New Brunswick. Can. J. Plant Sci. 91: 765-772. A 5-yr field study was conducted in New Brunswick, Canada, to assess the impact of a reflective groundcover (ExtendayTM) on Gala (Malus×domestica Borkh.) apple trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA), flowering, yield and fruit quality. Overall, a 25% increase in the total number of fruit per tree was realized with use of the 3-m wide reflective groundcover on the orchard floor between tree rows from full-bloom until 3 wk post-harvest; this translated to 26% greater total yield per tree and 16% greater yield efficiency. No overall effects on fruit quality at harvest were associated with use of the reflective groundcover. Trees with reflective groundcover exhibited a greater yearly percentage increase in TCSA (18.5%) than those without (15.0%); neither flowering nor fruit set was affected in any year. These increases in productivity were mediated by the enhanced canopy light environment provided by the reflective groundcover. The primary economic benefit to be derived from use of the ExtendayTM reflective groundcover in apple production in the Maritime region is through the capacity to produce higher-yielding crops of fruit on larger trees (increased yield efficiency), without compromising fruit quality. This improvement in production efficiency could translate to an increase in 4.5 t ha-1 of marketable fruit in New Brunswick.
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Vol. 91 • No. 4