Jujube (Ziziphus jujuba Mill.) originated in China and grows well in a wide range of areas in the United States, especially the southwest. New Mexico State University’s Sustainable Agriculture Science Center has imported and collected over 50 jujube cultivars and conducted a series of jujube-related research projects. In this study, jujube phenology and pollen germination in New Mexico were investigated and two unique germplasm resources were reported. Jujubes leafed out 4–8 weeks later than most pome and stone fruits and bloomed 2–3 months later than apricots, peaches, and apples. It can avoid late frosts in most years in northern New Mexico and, thus, produce a crop more reliably than traditional fruit crops in the region. For the 48 cultivars tested for pollen germination, the germination rates ranged from 0% to 75% depending on the cultivar and year. ‘September Late’ had the highest pollen germination rate each year among all cultivars tested from 2012 to 2014, whereas ‘GA866’, ‘Maya’, and ‘Sherwood’ had the lowest. ‘Zaocuiwang’ was the first reported male-sterile jujube cultivar in the United States, and this character was consistent from year to year and, thus, it would be a valuable cultivar for jujube breeding. Cultivar Yu had pseudo-flowers which never bloomed or set fruit. It would be a useful germplasm as special landscape trees or for genomic study of jujube flowering-related genes.
This project was funded by a specialty crop block grant through the New Mexico Department of Agriculture and the New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station, and Hatch funds from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
We thank Steve Guldan, Richard Heerema, and Marisa Thompson from New Mexico State University for reviewing this manuscript. We also thank Junxin Huang, Robert Heyduck, David Salazar, and David Archuleta for their technical assistance.
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