Nav: Home

How UFOs can improve sweet cherry production

October 13, 2016

EAST LANSING, MI - Sweet cherry growers must address many challenges to producing marketable crops, including high labor costs, pests, diseases, rain-induced cracking, and bird damage. The authors of a new study (HortScience, August 2016) say that high-density tree training systems can help growers make sweet cherry production more efficient and reduce pesticide use. Tiffany Law and Gregory Lang, from the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University, evaluated the first-year establishment of upright fruiting offshoots (UFO) of sweet cherry trees, and determined effective practices that they say can increase grower's success.

Law and Lang explained that UFO is an innovative and somewhat radical new high-density training system that produces fruit on multiple vertical leaders (offshoots) arising from a cordon-like trunk, ostensibly somewhat like trellised grapes. "This provides a tall, narrow fruiting canopy that is easy to train and prune for renewal of uprights," the authors said. "The goal in establishing a UFO tree structure is to develop well-distributed upright shoots and maximize vertical shoot growth in the trellis plane."

Lang and Law experimented with unbranched single leader nursery trees of 'Rainier' sweet cherry on 'Gisela 3' rootstock, planted at a spacing of ≈1.5 m and divided into 12 treatment combinations. The experiments investigated trunk angle, planting trees at 30°, 45°, or 60° from horizontal. "Imposed on the angle factor was the height at which the trunk was attached horizontally to the first trellis wire (45 or 60 cm), and bent in early summer to form the horizontal cordon," the authors reported.

To determine the influence of bud selection on shoot development, the scientists either left all buds intact or removed most buds except one upward-oriented bud every ≈15 cm.

Planting angle, cordon height, and bud selection all significantly impacted canopy establishment of UFO trees. At planting, trunk angles of 45° or 60° from the horizontal resulted in increased upright shoot growth compared with 30°, and also promoted better shoot distribution on the treatments without bud selection. A cordon height of 45 cm increased total upright shoot length by 20% compared with a 60-cm cordon height.

Bud selection improved canopy development precision by promoting a more balanced distribution of upright shoots across the cordon, reducing the number of shoots in the terminal third of the cordon and increasing shoot number in the basal and middle thirds compared with no bud selection. "Bud selection reduced fruiting potential in the 2nd and 3rd years compared with unmanaged treatments, but subsequently surpassed those treatments in projected annual yield in Year 4 and cumulative yield in Year 5," the authors noted. Bud selection increased total and average upright shoot length, and improved distribution during establishment while moderating early crop load potential.

The study contains additional recommendations for production practices that can improve precision canopy development and full yield potential for sweet cherry production in the upright fruiting offshoots system, which is of increasing interest to growers for its potential to optimize labor efficiency and cropping uniformity.
The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site:

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application. More information at

American Society for Horticultural Science

Related Height Articles:

Study finds association between father's pre-conception vitamin D intake and child height and weight at 5 years old
New research presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Porto, Portugal (May 17-20) shows that a father's vitamin D intake pre-conception is associated with his child's height and weight at five years old.
Understanding the genetics of human height
A large-scale international study involving more than 300 researchers, published today in Nature, heralds the discovery of 83 genetic variations controlling human height.
New genes for height revealed in global study of 700,000 people
Eighty-three new genetic variants that strongly influence human height have been discovered in a study led by Queen Mary University of London, Montreal Heart Institute, The Broad Institute and the University of Exeter.
GIANT study finds rare, but influential, genetic changes related to height
In the largest, deepest search to date, the international Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits (GIANT) Consortium has uncovered 83 new DNA changes that affect human height.
Study: Impact of genetics on human height is not increasing
The relative impact of genetics on height does not increase with improvements to the standard of living.
Weight and height during adolescence may impact future risk of developing Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
A new analysis indicates that higher body weight and taller stature during adolescence increase the risk of developing Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer of the lymphatic system.
Height influences risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer
Scientists at the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) and the Harvard School of Public Health describe the relationship of the worldwide increase in height with the development of leading chronic non-communicable diseases in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.
What's height got to do with it?
Some may believe that chance brings you together with your loved one, but scientists have found a far less romantic reason.
Leadership study hints that age beats height
New research out of the University of Melbourne suggests that when it comes to good leadership at the Olympic level, age trumps physical stature.
Physical attraction linked to genes that control height, study finds
Our choice of romantic partner can be determined by genetics more than we might expect, a study from the University of Edinburgh suggests.

Related Height Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...