APPLE CULTIVAR DEVELOPMENT IN ARKANSAS

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, PTSC 316, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701

Apple cultivar development is an important program necessary to sustain the existing fruit industry and stimulate new production systems for Arkansas and the region. The cultivar development program has two parts. First, currently available cultivars are tested with multiple trees for multiple years. Second, about 150 advanced selections from the Arkansas apple breeding program are evaluated in trials with multiple trees (2nd test) and in replicated trials (3rd test). The goal of both programs is to identify cultivars that have potential in the local production systems and for Arkansas' markets, and to identify those cultivars which are not adapted to the region. All cultivars and advanced selections are evaluated for ∂35 qualitative and quantitative characteristics, including time of bloom, time of harvest, length of harvest season, fruit aesthetic and internal quality, environmental adaptability especially to heat and high light, and insect and disease susceptibility. Primary diseases for which cultivars and selections are screened include fireblight, cedar apple rust, powdery mildew, black rot, white rot and bitter rot. Primary insect pests include mites, codling moth, plum curculio and Japanese beetle. Cultivars are evaluated in the field, under standard management conditions for five to seven years of production before summary evaluation. The program has identified cultivars including traditional cultivars, new cultivars, and heritage cultivars adaptable to the local and regional climates and suitable for those markets.

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