Reviewing the Commercial Potential of Hand Thinning in Citrus with a Cost-benefit Analysis of Summer Hand Thinning of ‘Nadorcott’ Mandarin
Hand thinning is not often applied as a commercial cultural practice in citriculture due to the practice’s reliance on costly manual labor. However, hand thinning could provide unique benefits such as treatment selectivity and easier control over thinning intensity, as opposed to foliar sprays of chemical thinning agents. In ‘‘on-year’’ ‘Nadorcott’ mandarin (Citrus reticulata) trees, summer (January) and autumn (April) hand-thinning treatments of removal of all fruit <20 and <40 mm diameter were evaluated for effects on leaf carbohydrates and fruit growth rate. Other factors assessed included treatments’ effects on tree total fruit yield, fruit quality, and fruit size distribution. In addition, two different summer hand-thinning treatments (removal of all fruit <20 and <25 mm) were evaluated for effects on fruit size distribution and fruit yield over two seasons to determine their potential financial implications.