What causes premature fruit drop?

Plant name(s): Fruit trees
Symptoms / Characteristics:
There are many reasons why a plant might shed its fruit prematurely. Don’t panic. Fruit drop may be natural, environmental or pest-related. Take careful observations and evaluate all possibilities. Use a process of elimination to determine the cause of the symptom and decide on an appropriate control measure.
In many cases, apple in particular, the plant undergoes certain growth phases in which natural fruit drop occurs. An early summer fruit drop commonly occurs in apple, pear and, less frequently, cherry. This is a result of the plant’s inability to support the vast number of fruit that it has produced. Profuse flowering and extensive pollination result in the overproduction of fruit, beyond what the plant can physiologically sustain. In an effort to conserve energy, the plant drops the fruit. Essentially, it is a natural thinning that results from the competition between fruits.
Premature fruit drop is often related to unfavourable environmental conditions, such as late frosts, excessive heat or cold, and abrupt changes in humidity. Symptoms may be soil related, resulting from irregular watering and improper nutrition. Nutrient deficiency is a common problem. Boron-deficient green peppers, for example, will even exhibit a certain amount of fruit drop. Although there are characteristic deficiency symptoms associated with each nutrient, plant expression may vary between species. Deficiency diagnosis is further complicated if more than one nutrient is deficient in the soil. In Manitoba, only nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur are of particular concern with respect to fruit production. Herbicide drift may also lead to premature fruit drop.
Pathological or pest-related fruit drop is more likely to occur late in the growing season when the fruit is nearing maturity. Common insects that cause premature fruit drop include apple maggot and plum curculio. Common diseases include apple scab and peach leaf curl. Insects and diseases tend to have more visually identifiable symptoms and are, therefore, easier to diagnose than environmental or physiological disorders.
Control / Preventions:
Thin fruit to reduce competition and encourage the plant to put more energy into producing fewer numbers of larger, higher quality fruit. The removal of fruit beyond what is lost during the early season drop may even be necessary. Some horticulturists even suggest thinning the blossoms, but flowers are typically an attractive feature for most homeowners. Avoid unfavourable environmental conditions that might cause a plant to drop its fruit. This involves effective water management and a balanced fertilizer program, according to individual plant specifications. Soil testing may be required in order to confirm nutrient deficiency/toxicity. Supplement with fertilizer where necessary. Avoid herbicide drift. Never apply herbicides in windy or dead calm conditions. Contrary to popular belief, dead calm conditions are often associated with a phenomenon known as temperature inversions. Spraying under such conditions can actually increase drift distance. If additional symptoms are observed on fruit, leaves or stems, proceed to identify the causal agent and administer appropriate control measures.
Relevant web sites:
extension.oregonstate.edu/news/story.php?S_No=402&storyType=garden
Other references:
Jones, A.L. and Sutton, T.B. 1984. Diseases of Tree Fruits. Cooperative Extension Service, Michigan State University. 59 pages.
Manitoba Agriculture and Food Fruit Guide 2000 Edition. 262 pages.

Premature Fruit Drop

As new parents of a fruit tree, you most likely are excitedly looking forward to the first crop your tree produces. As spring time flourishes and you see your new fruit form, you start preparing for what you will do with that first delicious bite. And then out of nowhere (it seems!) you come out one morning to find that beloved first fruit on the ground, before it was ripe. So what has caused this? There are a variety of reasons and we list the top 5 for you to utilize as you troubleshoot to find a solution.

#1 Inadequate Pollination

Naturally, insufficiently pollinated young fruit will be shed. This can be caused by an inadequate presence of pollination helpers (like bees) during the bloom time of your trees. You may encourage a greater population of bees and other beneficials by companion-planting roses and other garden plants that will attract them and avoid using pest control sprays while your tree is blooming.

One additional persimmon issue bears mentioning: premature fruit drop. The reason persimmons fall from the tree before they ripen is the result of parthenocarpy, which a fascinating botanical phenomenon.

Parthenocarpy (a word that combines “parthenos,” meaning virgin, and “karpos” meaning fruit) is the production of fruit without fertilization. In certain persimmon varieties, parthenocarpically produced fruit is highly susceptible to dropping from the tree before it matures.

In general, what we call a fruit is actually a fully developed plant ovary. The ovary is a female flower part that grows in response to pollination and fertilization of the ovum or egg. Fertilization occurs after pollination — that is, after a male pollen grain from one flower is transferred to the female stigma of another flower — occurs.

A tube grows out from the male pollen grain into the female stigma and then continues to grow down through a filament called a style. At the base of the style, male genetic material from the pollen grain unites with female genetic material that is located there in the ovule (egg).

This mixing of male and female genetic material is known as fertilization, from which a seed is produced.

In most plants, hormone exuded by a developing seed stimulates growth of the ovary into a fruit. But in a few select plants — such as bananas, persimmons, figs, navel oranges, and Satsuma plums — fruits may grow without the benefit of seed formation. In the case of persimmons, although fruit can develop without seeds, larger crops will result and fruit will stay on the tree until ripe when pollination/fertilization and seed development occurs.

The most popular persimmon variety is ‘Fuyu,’ whose fruit often drops when it develops parthenocarpically.

#2 Overbearing

Trees that try to overbear, especially in their early fruit production years, may succumb to early fruit drop. Young trees are more prone to drop fruit, whereas older, established, developed trees tend to more regularly store and make use of their reserve food. This food is stored while a tree is dormant and is used in the production of fruiting buds that swell and bloom in the spring. If a tree has not developed a system to properly store reserve food, the fruit that forms will compete for nutrients to feed them.

If there is too much fruit forming, “survival of the fittest” kicks in, and the tree drops fruit. If the competition for nutrients is between the young fruit and the tree itself, your tree will sacrifice the lot so that it can live to fruit another year.

Some trees shed the newly formed fruit to protect their branches from the stress of the added weight. If the fruit is allowed to remain on the tree, and it grows to its full size, the branches will break or bend down to the ground, which could be an invitation for pests and disease. The outcome is much more detrimental than simply having the underdeveloped fruit be shed to the ground.

If a tree is allowed to sustain a vigorous crop load, and a drop doesn’t occur, one result may be that the tree that bears biennially. The tree will have a bumper crop one year, where it produces an abundance of fruit, and then it will take the next year off to recover. Fruit bearing is a stress on the tree, so it is not unusual that, during this recovery year, your tree will not have a fruit crop.

To avoid fruit drop as a result of overbearing, we recommend thinning the young fruit before the tree drops it. In general, it is best to leave 4-6 inches between each fruit and break up any clusters that may form. You may use small, sharp pruners to remove the fruit or simply pluck it off with your fingers.

If you pinch the blossoms off your tree before the petals drop and fruit begins to form, you will also be able to help avoid overbearing and fruit drop.

#3 Water

Early fruit drop can be a self-regulating tactic that a fruit tree employs when it does not have enough resources to ripen all of its fruit. By the same token, an unsatisfactory watering regime, whether the tree is getting too little or too much water, may be implicated in early fruit drop. For this reason, mulching is recommended, a practice that lengthens irrigation intervals while keeping soil moisture at a constant level.

#4 Weather

Freezes, wind and hail can cause fruit drop as well as other types of damage to trees and their fruit. If you expect a frost or freezing temperatures in your area during the growing season, you can cover your tree with sheets and even wrap holiday lights around it for extra insulation and warmth. Supporting your young tree with tree stakes can help prevent damage to the tree during windstorms. The best thing you can do for your tree is keep it in good health —that way, even if the weather takes some fruit, your healthy tree will stick around to keep producing for you in years to come.

Of course you may find that these general troubleshooting reasons do not apply to your situation and tree. The best next course of action would be to contact your local Agriculture Extension agent to test the soil. It is generally a free service and is vital in helping to diagnose what might be troubling your fruit tree.

Q: I have a persimmon tree purchased nine years ago. In the past three years, the fruit hasn’t grown larger than a grape, changing color but not expanding in size. The tree receives sun all day long. Will I ever again see any full-size fruit from this tree? What am I doing wrong?

— Mrs. Marty Mayer, Northridge

A: Persimmon is one of the most sensible fruit trees for Valley gardens. A persimmon tree is relatively easy to maintain. Once the tree has established its main branching structure after a few years of growth, pruning is no longer necessary.

A persimmon tree’s mature size is a manageable 30 feet. The tree is also reasonably drought tolerant and should not require more than a single weekly soaking.

The top of your tree may be getting lots of sun but, from your photo of the entire tree, it seems that the base of the trunk is in the shade. In addition, it appears that your tree is in a low spot, at the foot of a slope, and that the bottom of the trunk, where it meets the soil, is below grade. Thus, there could be a problem of constantly moist soil.

Soil beneath persimmon trees needs to dry out between waterings. In fact, as a general rule, you should not water any plant until its soil is dry at a two-inch depth. I also don’t think the brick circle around your tree is a good idea since it could encourage water to collect inside it.

Here’s a good rule of thumb regarding plant health: unless you see clear signs of disease or insect damage, plant problems are nearly always associated with what is happening below. Typically, the soil is too wet or, on fewer occasions, too dry. Also, if the base of a trunk is always moist — a consequence of excessive irrigation, too much shade, circling plants or ground cover that touch the tree, or mulch that covers the trunk base — you are almost sure to have problems, including root and wood rot that can cause death of the tree.

An alternative explanation for your tree’s travails is that it was planted in a root-bound condition. This means that you planted a tree that had been growing in a container too small for it, whose roots were growing in a circular pattern inside the container.

Such trees perform well for the first few years until, eventually, the tree suffers since its increased top growth is not compensated by increased root growth. It is as though your tree, due to its circling and strangled roots, is still growing in its original nursery container.

One additional persimmon issue bears mentioning: premature fruit drop. The reason persimmons fall from the tree before they ripen is the result of parthenocarpy, which a fascinating botanical phenomenon.

Parthenocarpy (a word that combines “parthenos,” meaning virgin, and “karpos” meaning fruit) is the production of fruit without fertilization. In certain persimmon varieties, parthenocarpically produced fruit is highly susceptible to dropping from the tree before it matures.

In general, what we call a fruit is actually a fully developed plant ovary. The ovary is a female flower part that grows in response to pollination and fertilization of the ovum or egg. Fertilization occurs after pollination — that is, after a male pollen grain from one flower is transferred to the female stigma of another flower — occurs.

A tube grows out from the male pollen grain into the female stigma and then continues to grow down through a filament called a style. At the base of the style, male genetic material from the pollen grain unites with female genetic material that is located there in the ovule (egg).

This mixing of male and female genetic material is known as fertilization, from which a seed is produced.

In most plants, hormone exuded by a developing seed stimulates growth of the ovary into a fruit. But in a few select plants — such as bananas, persimmons, figs, navel oranges, and Satsuma plums — fruits may grow without the benefit of seed formation. In the case of persimmons, although fruit can develop without seeds, larger crops will result and fruit will stay on the tree until ripe when pollination/fertilization and seed development occurs.

The most popular persimmon variety is ‘Fuyu,’ whose fruit often drops when it develops parthenocarpically. To ensure a crop, plant a pollinator variety such as ‘Gailey’ next to your ‘Fuyu.’

Early fruit drop can be a self-regulating tactic that a fruit tree employs when it does not have enough resources to ripen all of its fruit. By the same token, an unsatisfactory watering regime, whether the tree is getting too little or too much water, may be implicated in early fruit drop. For this reason, mulching is recommended, a practice that lengthens irrigation intervals while keeping soil moisture at a constant level.

But be careful: excessive fertilization with nitrogen can also lead to early fruit drop since there will be a tendency toward explosive vegetative or foliar growth at the expense of fruit development.

Finally, lack of bee activity and, therefore, limited pollination and seed formation, will also contribute to premature fruit drop.

The curious Amaranth

The amaranths are a curious and rewarding family of plants. The name amaranth means everlasting (a = not, maranth = dying), which alludes to the lasting quality of their blooms. Just the other day, on Van Nuys Boulevard in front of a car lot, I saw a rich planting of cockscomb or woolflower (Celosia argenteus var. plumosa). The car lot cultivar had red flowers and maroon foliage.

Other garden-worthy amaranths include love-lies-bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus) and globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa). Amaranths are considered pseudo-cereals since, while not belonging to the grass family like wheat, oats, corn or barley, the seeds of certain amaranth species can be used in making flour, as in the notable example of quinoa, whose flowers resemble those of cockscomb.

To learn more about area plants and gardens, visit Joshua Siskin’s website at www.thesmartergardener.com. Send your questions with full name and location to [email protected]

How to Harvest Phase Lemons in Slime Rancher

When playing Slime Rancher, Phase Lemons can be tricky little suckers to find and harvest. They are said to be from a different time (or even a different reality) than our own. As such, Phase Lemon Trees often appear and disappear seemingly randomly.

This is a pretty big frustration for players who are trying to collect them. But with the tips in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to having more Phase Lemons than you know what to do with.

Where are Phase Lemons Found in Slime Rancher?

To find Phase Lemons, you will need to travel to the Ancient Ruins. To access the Ancient Ruins, you will need a plort from the following 6 slimes:

  1. Tabbies
  2. Phosphors
  3. Rocks
  4. Honeys
  5. Booms
  6. Rads

If you don’t know where the Ancient Ruins are, then head toward either the Indigo Quarry or Moss Blanket Island. You can get to the Ruins from either of those locations.

Harvesting

Phase Lemon trees pop up in all sorts of places across the Ancient Ruins, and never stay in one place for very long.

Getting the phase lemons, however, is relatively simple. Find a Phase Lemon tree that’s ripe with visible, yet translucent, lemons on the tree and shoot a fruit at it. You can also then use a Phase Lemon to plant your own Phase Lemon tree.

Phase lemons ripe for the taking on a phase lemon tree.

That wraps up our guide for finding and harvesting Phase Lemons in Slime Rancher! Drop a comment below if you have any questions.

How do you harvest Phase Lemons?

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It took me some time to figure out how to get these things into a collectible state, which got me thinking about other alternatives to harvesting phase lemons.
The first thing I thought about (and was already suggested, I believe) was some form of quantum stabilizer upgrade for crop plots and corrals. This would make phase lemons much easier to collect, and quantum slimes easier to keep in a corral, at the cost of a hefty sum of money.
The second thing I thought about involves the newely added echoes. A player could shoot an echo at a phase lemon tree to make every fully grown lemon drop, but would come at the cost of the echo. This could be expensive, as, to my knowledge, there are only a certain number of echoes in the Ancient Ruins. The devs could introduce echo creators that players could deploy in the Ruins to create and gather echoes. Again: Expensive, but it cuts down on the amount of fruit needed to harvest a full tree of lemons.
That’s about it, though. Phase lemons are neato, but I’m pretty iffy on the idea of essentially converting a single fruit into a phase lemon twenty times. And, while the echoes are pretty cool, they ultimately don’t have much use on my ranch, as I have avoided using decorative items.

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