A pistachio breeding program was initiated in 1989 to develop new cultivars for the California industry. The program was begun with an initial set of 1940 progeny from 78 crosses. In 1990, an additional 5470 seedlings were produced from 176 controlled crosses. Progeny were planted at Winters, Calif., Kearney Agr. Center, and a plot near Bakersfield in a randomized block design with crosses as treatments. Fifty-three, 962, and 2943 genotypes flowered in 1994, 1995, and 1996, respectively. Data on flowering, flowering date, sex, tree size as measured by trunk cross-section area, and disease status were collected on all trees in the breeding program at the three field locations. Nuts were collected and evaluated for number of nuts/tree, % splits, % blanks, wet and dry weight, kernel weight, and volume. Heritability estimates for nut characters, tree size, and Alternaria resistance were ranged from 0.30 to 0.76. Several parents were identified that apparently provide a high level of resistance to Alternaria. Relationships among various nut parameters and the relationship of tree size to flowering and parentage were also investigated and evaluated statistically. Replicated advanced selection trials will be established in 1997.
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