Episodic Growth and Shoot Differentiation in Apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.)

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  • 1 Faculte des Sciences Agronomiques, B-5030 Gembloux, Belgium

The flushing behavior of shoot growth and its consequences on shoot differentiation are important features in fruit tree development, with regard to flowering ability. In this respect, two different approaches were applied to young `M26' apple trees. First, poorly branched 2-year-old trees were headed back, either in the second-year or in the first-year wood, at different times from right before to 6 weeks after budbreak. Early pruning resulted in rapid and prolonged regrowth, with a final very similar shaping of the tree to that of the intact controls. Late pruning, in contrast, leads to a two-step reaction (late spring and summer flushes), sometimes stronger on 2-year-old than on 1-year-old wood. In a second experiment, buds and young shoots were sampled on pruned trees in locations where they could be supposed to remain short shoots or grow long, with one or two flushes. They were weighed, their leaves and internodes measured, and the plastochron evaluated. During budbreak and the first month afterwards, shoot differentiation appears achieved. The primary difference between long and short shoot types does not consist in faster internode elongation but, rather, in faster production (reduced plastochron) of larger leaves.

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