THE EFFECT OF ENFORCED SELFING ON RESULTANT SEED AND SEEDLING QUALITY IN THE SELF-INCOMPATIBLE ALMOND VARIETY NONPAREIL

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  • 1 Dept. of Pomology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616

All of the major California almond varieties are self-incompatible necessitating the interplanting of pollinizer varieties. The incorporation of self-compatibility into the dominant variety Nonpareil through mutation or genetic engineering would greatly improve cropping efficiency. Negative effects of inbreeding on resultant seed and seedling quality could negate production advantages. Inbred seed of Nonpareil were obtained by: a) enclosing mature trees in pollination cages containing bees at flowering, and, b) controlled crosses to a Nonpareil mutation (Jeffries) which is unilaterally compatible when used as the seed parent. Selfed seed set from caged trees was less than 0.001% of available flowers. Seed set from crosses to the Jeffries mutation averaged 34.4% which was not significantly different than outcrossed controls. No significant loss in kernel weight and dimensions were observed in any of the inbred material when compared with outcrossed controls though a higher proportion of the inbred seed and seedlings failed to develop fully. Both average tree height and trunk diameter after 1 year of growth was significantly lower in inbred vs. outcrossed material. Results suggest no major penalty to kernel quality following self-pollination, though losses in progeny vigor should be a concern when utilizing selfed seed in variety development programs.

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