Rootstock breeding programs in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Japan have all released apple rootstocks in the recent past that are potentially important to the worldwide apple industry in the next century. Several of these programs are continuing to breed new rootstocks. Each program has focused on different breeding objectives, thus giving a wide range of horticultural characteristics among this new group of rootstocks. All programs have focused on the horticulturally important traits of productivity, dwarfing and precocity but certain programs have also emphasized other characteristics such as propagability, stress tolerance, disease resistance or insect resistance. Commercialization of this new group of rootstocks is proceeding at an extremely fast pace due to the worldwide networking of fruit tree nursery companies and the use of plant patents. This presents a large job for research and extension personnel to properly test rootstocks for adaptability to different growing areas before they are planted on a large scale. The national rootstock testing project (NC-140) composed of researchers from most apple growing states and provinces in the U.S. and Canada is collecting rootstocks from around the world and conducting uniform field trials that give performance data from a wide variety of climates and soils. This information becomes the basis for local rootstock recommendations in North America. This presentation reviews the most promising rootstocks from around the world and summarize the research information from North American and worldwide trials.
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