Streptomycin Applications to Control Walnut Blight Disease Can Prevent Fertilization and Increase Fruit Drop

in HortScience

We investigated the basis for fruit drop in walnut (Juglans regia L.) following bloom period applications of streptomycin as a potential control treatment for walnut blight, a bacterial disease incited by Xanthomonas campestris pv. juglandis (Pierce) Dye. Experiments were conducted on streptomycin-treated field plots of `Vina' walnut. Four streptomycin treatments were applied at different times relative to anthesis. Fruit from all treatments grew similarly for four weeks following anthesis when high levels of fruit abscission began to occur in the treatment sprayed during the bloom period. Microscopy revealed that in this treatment ovules failed to develop normally, and neither embryo nor endosperm developed. The pattern of fruit development and timing of fruit drop following streptomycin treatment at bloom is similar in all ways to that of unpollinated walnut flowers where growth appears normal until abscission occurs 3 to 5 weeks after anthesis. Pollen germination and pollen tube growth were inhibited in the bloom-period treatments. Pollen germination in vitro was not affected by addition of streptomycin to a germination medium. If streptomycin were to be used in a walnut blight control program, application timed to coincide with the period of pistillate bloom and pistillate flower receptivity should be avoided.

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