In the olive (Olea europaea L.), inflorescence and flower differentiation occur in the early spring following a period of winter chilling and dormancy of the potentially reproductive buds. We examined the size, structure, and starch content of these buds during winter rest in the field and during forcing under standard growth-chamber conditions. Basic bud structure and dimensions remained unchanged during the rest period, but starch content increased in the bud's central axis. When cuttings were forced in the growth chamber, the buds followed a morphogenetic pattern similar to that observed in the field, but the sequence of developmental events could be timed more precisely. The first changes observed were the onset of axis growth and the differentiation of axillary primordia within 3 days of transfer to the growth chamber. This was followed by the initiation of new nodes, and, at 15 to 18 days, by the first signs of floral differentiation in the terminal and axillary bud apical meristems. Bud growth and differentiation were accompanied by a decrease in starch content.
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