Variation in Horticultural Traits of `Bing' Sweet Cherry Associated with Ilarvirus Infection

in HortScience
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  • 1 Washington State University–Prosser, Prosser, WA 99350

Thirty-five `Bing' sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) clones were collected, primarily from old commercial orchards in central Washington; propagated on P. mahaleb L. rootstock; and their horticultural performance was evaluated. Nine of the 35 clones were not infected with the common pollen-borne ilarviruses prunus necrotic ringspot virus and prune dwarf virus—four of the clones after decades of exposure in commercial orchards. As a group, the nine virus-free clones produced larger trees with earlier fruit maturity and less rain cracking, but softer fruit, than did the 26 infected clones. These data challenge the general assumption that the presence of one or both of these ilarviruses is always detrimental. This assumption has driven development of many valuable virus certification programs and the adoption of virus-free trees as the standard for commercial fruit growing in most states.

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