What is in this article?:
- Apples reign as New Mexico‚Äôs largest fruit crop
- Weather impact
- It can be a long-term mistake to change orchards to different varieties without knowing if they will produce in New Mexico’s climate.
In the yield category, Imperial Gala was the most productive of the cultivars tested, followed by Ginger Gold and Lucky Jon," Yao said of the data collected by Walser during the 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2006 seasons. "However, the Gala apples were the smallest in average individual weight."
While Red Chief trees were the lowest in yield, the individual apples had the highest average weight.
"Ginger Gold had the second best yield and the second best average fruit weight," Yao said.
Weather of Northern New Mexico, specifically late frosts, has a major impact on the state's apple production. Determining the cold hardiness, or frost resistance, of the cultivars was an important factor in the evaluation.
"Since frequently there are freezing temperatures during the first half of May, trees that bloom later in the spring generally have a better chance of surviving late frosts," Yao said. "Also growers like to have a selection of cultivars in their orchard so blooming, and therefore the harvest, span over a period of time."
Among the cultivars studied, Golden Supreme, Red Chief, Red Free and Lucky Jon bloomed later than Imperial Gala, Akane, Ginger Gold and Red Fuji.
A second aspect of the evaluation was comparing two training systems - palmette trellis and free standing modified central leader.
"Comparing the two training systems, there was no difference in yield and fruit size," Yao said. "Fruit color was better in the trellis system. Fruit quality is affected by how much light penetration occurs into the tree's canopy."
Yao said the trellis system needs more investment and labor input during the first three to four years of the trees growth. But later, it is easy to maintain and saved labor in pruning and harvesting.
Another benefit the growers gained from the Alcalde orchards was the workshops presented by various horticulturalist and fruit specialists through the years.
"We would go down there every year for workshops," Lopez said. "We had workshops on pruning, pesticides, and general information on orchard management."
"Several growers incorporated some of the new pruning techniques that we demonstrated and showed during field days at the orchard," Walser said.
One of the best benefits of having the orchards at Alcalde is that growers can visit the facility and see what variety produces the best.
"A picture is worth a thousand words," Lopez said. "I encourage growers to go to Alcalde during the fall and see which varieties are producing. They can taste the apples and see which ones they like."
For more information about the research materials and methods, visit NMMS's website at
http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/research/horticulture/BL-803.pdf for the publication.