Flower initiation and development in `Bing' sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) was examined using scanning electron microscopy. There was a 1- to 2-week difference in the time of initiation of flower buds on summer pruned current season shoots (P) compared to buds borne on unpruned shoots (U) or spurs (S). By late July, this difference was obvious in morphological development. The P buds had already formed floral primordia, while the S and U buds showed little differentiation in the meristem until early August. In general, buds from unpruned shoots were similar developmentally to spur buds. By late August, primordial differentiation was similar in the buds from all the wood types; however, buds from pruned shoots were significantly larger (838 μm) than buds from spurs (535 μm) and unpruned shoots (663 μm). Early summer pruning may shift allocation of resources from terminal shoot elongation to reproductive meristem development at the base of current season shoots. The similarity in reproductive bud development between spurs and unpruned shoots, given the difference in active terminal growth, might suggest that developmental resources are inherently more limiting in reproductive buds on spurs.
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