Pollen Flow and the Effect on Fruit Size in an 'Imperial' Mandarin Orchard

in HortScience

Pollen source is known to affect the fruit size and quality of 'Imperial' mandarin, but no study has determined the appropriate orchard design to maximize the beneficial effects of pollen source. We determined the parentage of seeds of 'Imperial' mandarin using the isozyme shikimate dehydrogenase to characterize pollen flow and the effect on fruit size in an orchard setting. Two blocks were examined: 1) a block near an 'Ellendale' pollinizer block; and 2) an isolated pure block planting. Fruit size and seed number were maximum at one and three rows from the pollinizer (P ≤ 0.05). Isozyme results were consistent with all seeds being the result of fertilization by the 'Ellendale' pollinizer. In the pure block planting, fruits in rows 5-11 inside the block were very small with no seeds. This indicates poor pollen flow resulting in a reduction in fruit quality for the pure block. These results emphasize the importance of pollinizers in orchard design, and bees in orchard management. They suggest that each row should be planted no more than three rows from the pollinizer to maximize the benefits of the pollen parent in self-incompatible cultivars such as 'Imperial'.

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