Relocating Large Trees for Germplasm Conservation in Tree Fruit Breeding Programs

in HortTechnology

Mature seedling trees of pear (Pyrus communis and interspecific hybrids), and fruiting trees of peach and nectarine (Prunus persica), apricot (Prunus armeniaca), and pear were relocated during the dormant season using tree spades. During the growing season immediately following, some signs of drought stress were noticed but all trees grew well enough that they could be used as a source of budwood for limited propagation purposes. When drip irrigation was supplied, supplemented by overhead irrigation as required, normal growth and production resumed within two growing seasons of the move. Some tree losses (less than 10% of trees moved) were reported from one site where the soil type was Fox sand with very poor water holding capacity. These tree losses were attributed to an inadequate water supply to the root ball, even though the site was irrigated. Our experience has demonstrated the feasibility of relocating relatively large trees, which can be beneficial for germplasm conservation in a tree fruit breeding program. However, it is probably not economically viable to relocate such trees for commercial production.

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Contributor Notes

To whom reprint requests should be addressed. Present mailing address: University of Guelph, Department of Plant Agriculture, 4890 Victoria Ave. N, P.O. Box 7000, Vineland Station, Ontario, Canada L0R 2E0. E-mail: hunterda@agr.gc.ca or dhunter@uoguelph.ca
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