An increased incidence of graft union failure of apple trees during high wind events has been noted by researchers participating in the NC-140 regional rootstock testing project for certain rootstock-scion combinations. By measuring the strength of graft unions in a survey of mature apple trees in multiple stock-scion combinations, we have determined that there are significant differences. These differences may be attributable to genotype specific characteristics of rootstocks, scions, and/or rootstock-scion interactions. We are presently exploring potential biophysical and anatomical differences related to weak graft unions of apple rootstock and scion varieties. As traits correlated with weak graft unions are identified, they will be useful to help growers avoid the rootstock-scion combinations that are particularly susceptible to tree failure.
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