‘Vialfas’ Almond

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  • 1 Unidad de Hortofruticultura, Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Agroalimentaria de Aragón (CITA), Av. Montañana 930, 50059 Zaragoza, Spain

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The almond (Prunus amygdalus Batsch) breeding program of the Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Agroalimentaria de Aragón (CITA) of Aragón aims to develop new self-compatible and late-blooming cultivars to solve the main problem detected in Spanish almond growing, its low productivity, due to the occurrence of frosts at blooming time or later and to a deficient pollination (Felipe, 2000). The first three cultivars released from this breeding program were Aylés, Guara, and Moncayo (Felipe and Socias i Company, 1987), ‘Guara’ having represented more than 50% of the new almond orchards in many years (Socias i Company et al., 2011). Later three more cultivars were registered in 1998, Blanquerna, Cambra, and Felisia (Socias i Company and Felipe, 1999), ‘Blanquerna’ being of very good productivity and kernel quality, and ‘Felisia’ of very late-blooming time. Two more cultivars, Belona and Soleta, were registered in 2005 (Socias i Company and Felipe, 2007). These were characterized by their high kernel quality and considered possible commercial substitutes for the two preferred cultivars in the Spanish market, Marcona and Desmayo Largueta, respectively. The last release from this breeding program has been Mardía, probably the latest blooming cultivar then released (Socias i Company et al., 2008). Now ‘Vialfas’ is being released because of its good horticultural and commercial traits, as well as its late-blooming time.

Origin

‘Vialfas’ (selection I-3-27, clone 546) comes from the cross of ‘Felisia’, a self-compatible and late-blooming release of the Zaragoza breeding program of small kernel size (Socias i Company and Felipe, 1999), and ‘Bertina’, a late-blooming local selection of large kernel size (Felipe, 2000). Consequently, ‘Vialfas’ is a full sib of ‘Mardía’. This cross was made with the aim of using two late-blooming almond cultivars, one of them carrying the late-bloom allele Lb (Socias i Company et al., 1999), of very different kernel size and genetically very distant, to avoid the problems related to inbreeding depression (Alonso and Socias i Company, 2007).

Blooming Time

Blooming time has always been a very important evaluation trait in the CITA breeding program. As an average, ‘Vialfas’ blooming time is 22 d later than ‘Nonpareil’, 17 d after ‘Guara’, 10 d after ‘Felisia’, and 3 d before ‘Mardía’ (Fig. 1). The consistent late blooming time is due to very high chilling and heat requirements (Alonso et al., 2005; Alonso and Socias i Company, 2009). Chilling requirements are similar to those of ‘Mardía’, but with slightly lower heat requirements (Table 1), which could explain the difference in blooming time.

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

Mean flowering time of ‘Vialfas’ as related to other cultivars (7 years average). Percentages refer to the amount of flowers opened.

Citation: HortScience horts 50, 11; 10.21273/HORTSCI.50.11.1726

Table 1.

Chilling and heat requirements of ‘Vialfas’ as related to other cultivars.

Table 1.

Flowers are of mean size, white, with peristigmatic style, both on spurs and on 1-year shoots. Bloom density is high and consistent (Kodad and Socias i Company, 2008b).

Autogamy

Self-compatibility was tested as soon as the original seedling produced the first flowers by examining the arrival or not of pollen tubes at the ovary after self-pollination (data not shown). Sets after self-pollination and autogamy were studied on three grafted trees during 4 years due to the large variability found between years in field trials for fruit set (Socias i Company et al., 2005). Average set after artificial self-pollination was 16.2%, not significantly different from cross-pollination, 16.9%, showing a good self-compatible behavior. These sets (Kodad and Socias i Company, 2008a) are lower than those considered for a commercial crop in Californian cultivars (Kester and Griggs, 1959), but ensure a good crop level because of the high bloom density of this selection, resulting in a high productivity (Kodad and Socias i Company, 2006). Its S-allele genotype has been determined as SfiS11 (Kodad and Socias i Company, 2008a).

Performance

Field behavior has been evaluated with three grafted trees in an experimental plot and in six trees in three external trials. One on the most important points considered was the behavior in relation to spring frost injury. Especially important were the observations in 2003 and 2004, with severe frosts in most almond growing regions of Spain. Whereas cultivars considered as resistant to frosts such as ‘Guara’ (Felipe, 1988) suffered important yield reductions, ‘Vialfas’, due to its very late-blooming season, did not suffer any damage (Kodad and Socias i Company, 2005).

Tree training has been easy because of its slightly upright growth habit (Kodad and Socias i Company, 2008b), without the problem of bending branches of ‘Guara’ (Fig. 2). Adult trees show an intermediate vigor and branching intensity, as well as a good equilibrium between vegetative growth and production, thus allowing reduction of pruning. Field observations in the different locations for at least 4 years showed its tolerance to Polystigma and other fungal diseases, such as Taphrina and Coryneum.

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

‘Vialfas’ tree in full production.

Citation: HortScience horts 50, 11; 10.21273/HORTSCI.50.11.1726

Ripening time is early, ≈9 d later than ‘Guara’, the earliest ripening cultivar, thus allowing the succession of harvest. Nut fall before harvest has been very low, but nuts fell easily when shaken. Yield rating in a trial where different late-blooming cultivars and breeding selections were evaluated has been slightly lower than for ‘Guara’, 7.5 vs. 9 in a 0–9 scale (Alonso et al., 2015), considering that Guara is a very high-yielding cultivar and rated as 9 in this scale (Alonso et al., 2012).

The external trials have shown its good adaptation to different growing and weather conditions, maintaining a high level of bud density in all locations (Kodad and Socias i Company, 2008b). A trial in Aniñón (Zaragoza) at 730 m above sea level and of very cold climate has had good production even in years with late frosts. A trial in Caspe (Zaragoza), at 100 m above sea level and with a milder climate, has shown their very good production as well as vegetation. Although ‘Vialfas’ showed similar unshelled nut production than Guara’, the kernel production was slightly lower due to the lower shelling percentage of ‘Vialfas’ (Alonso et al., 2015). Blooming and ripening dates observed in these locations have been, as expected, earlier in Caspe than in Zaragoza, but later in Aniñón.

Tree vigor, shown as trunk cross sectional area (TCSA) is low. Consequently, it could be better adapted to high density plantings than more vigorous cultivars. As a result of this low vigor, ‘Vialfas’ is in the group of cultivars with the highest productivities, 86 g of kernel/cm2 TCSA, similar to the most productive cultivar, Guara (Alonso et al., 2015).

Industrial Quality and Composition

Nut and fruit evaluation has been done through 7 years according to the IPGRI (International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, now Bioversity) and UPOV (Union pour la Protection des Obtentions Végétales) descriptors. Nuts show a very good aspect and good size (4.7 ± 0.5 g), with a high number of small points, between elliptic and heart shaped (Fig. 3). The shell is hard, adapted to the Spanish industry, with low shelling percentage (25%). However, the kernel percentage over the total fruit dry weight is 22.1%, quite high when compared with other cultivars: 23.1% for ‘Guara’, with the highest kernel percentage, and slightly less than 10% for ‘Marcona’, ‘Desmayo Largueta’ and ‘Nonpareil’ (Alonso et al., 2012). Kernels also show a very good aspect and good size (1.2 ± 0.2 g), heart-shaped, without double kernels (Fig. 3). Industrial cracking has been carried out by the Cooperative “Frutos Secos Alcañiz” and has shown very good results, despite the presence of double layers in the shell. The chemical composition of the kernels has been determined to establish their best utilization opportunities. The content in protein is low and that of oil is medium, similar to that of ‘Marcona’ (Table 2), a very interesting trait for “turrón” (nougat) production. The percentage of oleic acid, that of higher quality for fat stability and nutritive value in the lipid fraction, is especially high (Kodad and Socias i Company, 2008c), close to 78% (Table 2). The content in linoleic acid, of lower quality than the oleic acid regarding oil stability, is low, showing the highest ratio of oleic/linoleic acids than any other cultivar (6.3), as another index of high oil quality. The amount of tocopherols (Table 3) is lower than in other cultivars (Kodad et al., 2006), indicating the need for a rapid processing of kernels after cracking. The level of phytosterols (Table 4) is also low as compared with other cultivars (Fernández-Cuesta et al., 2012).

Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.

Nut and kernel of ‘Vialfas’.

Citation: HortScience horts 50, 11; 10.21273/HORTSCI.50.11.1726

Table 2.

Protein and fat composition of ‘Vialfas’ kernels as compared with other cultivars.

Table 2.
Table 3.

Tocopherol composition of ‘Vialfas’ kernels as compared with other cultivars.

Table 3.
Table 4.

Phytosterol composition of ‘Vialfas’ kernels as compared with other cultivars.

Table 4.

The amount of fiber in kernel is particularly high, as well that of ash, being in both cases close to the highest amount of all cultivars analyzed (Table 5). Likewise, the presence of mineral elements is very high for K and Ca, and average for Mg (Table 5)

Table 5.

Mineral composition of ‘Vialfas’ kernels as compared with other cultivars.

Table 5.

Availability

This cultivar has been presented to patent on 16 Dec. 2013 at the European Community Plant Variety Office and is available to nurseries though provisional licenses by Geslive (C. Antonio Maura 7-1°-I, 28014, Madrid, Spain; Tele. +34 913605870; E-mail: administracion@geslive.com).

Literature Cited

  • Alonso, J.M., Ansón, J.M., Espiau, M.T. & Socias i Company, R. 2005 Determination of endodormancy break in almond flower buds by a correlation model using the average temperature of different day intervals and its application to the estimation of chill and heat requirements and blooming date J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 130 308 318

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Alonso, J.M., Espada, J.L. & Socias i Company, R. 2012 Major macroelement exports in fruits of diverse almond cultivars Span. J. Agr. Res. 10 175 178

  • Alonso, J.M. & Socias i Company, R. 2009 Chill and heat requirements for blooming of the CITA almond cultivars Acta Hort. 814 215 220

  • Alonso Segura, J.M. & Socias i Company, R. 2007 Negative inbreeding effects in tree fruit breeding: Self-compatibility transmission in almond Theor. Appl. Genet. 115 151 158

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Alonso Segura, J.M., Socias i Company, R., Kodad, O., Espada Carbó, J.L., Andreu Lahoz, J. & Escartín Santolaria, J. 2015 Performance of the CITA almond releases and some elite selections. XVI GREMPA Meeting, Meknès, Morocco, 12–14 May 2015 (abstr. p. 19)

  • Felipe, A.J. 1988 Observaciones sobre comportamiento frente a heladas tardías en almendro Rap. EUR 11557 123 130

  • Felipe, A.J. 2000 El almendro. I. El material vegetal. Integrum, Lleida, Spain

  • Felipe, A.J. & Socias i Company, R. 1987 ‘Aylés’, ‘Guara’, and ‘Moncayo’ almonds HortScience 22 961 962

  • Fernández-Cuesta, A., Kodad, O., Socias i Company, R. & Velasco, L. 2012 Phytosterol variability in almond germplasm J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 137 343 348

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kester, D.E. & Griggs, W.H. 1959 Fruit setting in the almond: The effect of cross-pollinating various percentages of flowers Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 74 214 219

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kodad, O. & Socias i Company, R. 2005 Daños diferenciales por heladas en flores y frutos y criterios de selección para la tolerancia a heladas en el almendro Inf. Técn. Econ. Agrar. 101 349 365

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kodad, O. & Socias i Company, R. 2006 Influence of genotype, year and type of fruiting branches on the productive behaviour of almond Sci. Hort. 109 297 302

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kodad, O. & Socias i Company, R. 2008a Fruit set evaluation for self-compatibility selection in almond Sci. Hort. 118 260 265

  • Kodad, O. & Socias i Company, R. 2008b Significance of flower bud density for cultivar evaluation in almond HortScience 43 1753 1758

  • Kodad, O. & Socias i Company, R. 2008c Variability of oil content and major fatty acid composition in almond (Prunus amygdalus Batsch) and its relationship with kernel quality J. Agr. Food Chem. 56 4096 4101

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kodad, O., Socias i Company, R., Prats, M.S. & López Ortiz, M.C. 2006 Variability in tocopherol concentrations in almond oil and its use as a selection criterion in almond breeding J. Hort. Sci. Biotechnol. 81 501 507

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Socias i Company, R. & Felipe, A.J. 1999 ‘Blanquerna’, ‘Cambra’ y ‘Felisia’: Tres nuevos cultivares autógamos de almendro Inf. Técn. Econ. Agrar. 95V 111 117

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Socias i Company, R. & Felipe, A.J. 2007 ‘Belona’ and ‘Soleta’ almonds HortScience 42 704 706

  • Socias i Company, R., Felipe, A.J. & Gómez Aparisi, J. 1999 A major gene for flowering time in almond Plant Breed. 118 443 448

  • Socias i Company, R., Gómez Aparisi, J. & Alonso, J.M. 2005 Year and enclosure effects on fruit set in an autogamous almond Sci. Hort. 104 369 377

  • Socias i Company, R., Kodad, O., Alonso, J.M. & Felipe, A.J. 2008 ‘Mardía’ almond HortScience 43 2240 2242

  • Socias i Company, R., Kodad, O., Alonso, J.M., Espada, J.L., Chomé, P. & Martínez-Treceño, A. 2011 The introduction of new almond cultivars in Spanish almond growing Nucis 15 14 17

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

Contributor Notes

The long-term work to develop this cultivar has been funded by successive research grants, most recently RTA2014-00062-00-00 from the Spanish Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agroalimentarias, and the activity of the Consolidated Research Group A12 of Aragón.

We appreciate the technical work of M.T. Espiau, J. Búbal, and A. Escota, as well as the collaboration of the cooperative “Frutos Secos Alcañiz,” the growers of the external trials, mainly A. Rabinad and J.L. Sánchez, and the collaboration of J.L. Espada and P. Castañer (Servicio de Recursos Agrarios de Aragón) in the experimental orchards.

Corresponding author. E-mail: rsocias@cita-aragon.es.

  • View in gallery

    Mean flowering time of ‘Vialfas’ as related to other cultivars (7 years average). Percentages refer to the amount of flowers opened.

  • View in gallery

    ‘Vialfas’ tree in full production.

  • View in gallery

    Nut and kernel of ‘Vialfas’.

  • Alonso, J.M., Ansón, J.M., Espiau, M.T. & Socias i Company, R. 2005 Determination of endodormancy break in almond flower buds by a correlation model using the average temperature of different day intervals and its application to the estimation of chill and heat requirements and blooming date J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 130 308 318

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Alonso, J.M., Espada, J.L. & Socias i Company, R. 2012 Major macroelement exports in fruits of diverse almond cultivars Span. J. Agr. Res. 10 175 178

  • Alonso, J.M. & Socias i Company, R. 2009 Chill and heat requirements for blooming of the CITA almond cultivars Acta Hort. 814 215 220

  • Alonso Segura, J.M. & Socias i Company, R. 2007 Negative inbreeding effects in tree fruit breeding: Self-compatibility transmission in almond Theor. Appl. Genet. 115 151 158

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Alonso Segura, J.M., Socias i Company, R., Kodad, O., Espada Carbó, J.L., Andreu Lahoz, J. & Escartín Santolaria, J. 2015 Performance of the CITA almond releases and some elite selections. XVI GREMPA Meeting, Meknès, Morocco, 12–14 May 2015 (abstr. p. 19)

  • Felipe, A.J. 1988 Observaciones sobre comportamiento frente a heladas tardías en almendro Rap. EUR 11557 123 130

  • Felipe, A.J. 2000 El almendro. I. El material vegetal. Integrum, Lleida, Spain

  • Felipe, A.J. & Socias i Company, R. 1987 ‘Aylés’, ‘Guara’, and ‘Moncayo’ almonds HortScience 22 961 962

  • Fernández-Cuesta, A., Kodad, O., Socias i Company, R. & Velasco, L. 2012 Phytosterol variability in almond germplasm J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 137 343 348

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kester, D.E. & Griggs, W.H. 1959 Fruit setting in the almond: The effect of cross-pollinating various percentages of flowers Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 74 214 219

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kodad, O. & Socias i Company, R. 2005 Daños diferenciales por heladas en flores y frutos y criterios de selección para la tolerancia a heladas en el almendro Inf. Técn. Econ. Agrar. 101 349 365

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kodad, O. & Socias i Company, R. 2006 Influence of genotype, year and type of fruiting branches on the productive behaviour of almond Sci. Hort. 109 297 302

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kodad, O. & Socias i Company, R. 2008a Fruit set evaluation for self-compatibility selection in almond Sci. Hort. 118 260 265

  • Kodad, O. & Socias i Company, R. 2008b Significance of flower bud density for cultivar evaluation in almond HortScience 43 1753 1758

  • Kodad, O. & Socias i Company, R. 2008c Variability of oil content and major fatty acid composition in almond (Prunus amygdalus Batsch) and its relationship with kernel quality J. Agr. Food Chem. 56 4096 4101

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kodad, O., Socias i Company, R., Prats, M.S. & López Ortiz, M.C. 2006 Variability in tocopherol concentrations in almond oil and its use as a selection criterion in almond breeding J. Hort. Sci. Biotechnol. 81 501 507

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Socias i Company, R. & Felipe, A.J. 1999 ‘Blanquerna’, ‘Cambra’ y ‘Felisia’: Tres nuevos cultivares autógamos de almendro Inf. Técn. Econ. Agrar. 95V 111 117

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Socias i Company, R. & Felipe, A.J. 2007 ‘Belona’ and ‘Soleta’ almonds HortScience 42 704 706

  • Socias i Company, R., Felipe, A.J. & Gómez Aparisi, J. 1999 A major gene for flowering time in almond Plant Breed. 118 443 448

  • Socias i Company, R., Gómez Aparisi, J. & Alonso, J.M. 2005 Year and enclosure effects on fruit set in an autogamous almond Sci. Hort. 104 369 377

  • Socias i Company, R., Kodad, O., Alonso, J.M. & Felipe, A.J. 2008 ‘Mardía’ almond HortScience 43 2240 2242

  • Socias i Company, R., Kodad, O., Alonso, J.M., Espada, J.L., Chomé, P. & Martínez-Treceño, A. 2011 The introduction of new almond cultivars in Spanish almond growing Nucis 15 14 17

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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