Stigmatic Receptivity Limits the Effective Pollination Period in `Agua de Aranjuez' Pear

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

Apples and pears are fruit crops particularly susceptible to cropping irregularities. A strong relationship has been observed between the effective pollination period (EPP) and the general cropping of the orchard. The EPP concept has also been proven to be a useful parameter to establish a relationship between the variation in the reproductive process and cropping behaviors. For apples and pears, a slow pollen tube growth has been shown to be the main limiting factor of the EPP in the traditional cooler temperate cultivation regions. However, while higher temperatures speed up the pollen tube growth, the expansion of these crops into warmer areas often results in failures of fruit set. Thus, with the aim to ascertain the main limiting factor responsible for fruit set failures in Mediterranean conditions we have evaluated the EPP for two consecutive years in `Agua de Aranjuez' pear, the main Spanish cultivar, by studying the stigmatic receptivity, pollen tube kinetics, and ovule development. Complete flower fertility was maintained for just 2 days after anthesis in both years. Pollen tube kinetics and ovule degeneration do not appear to limit flower receptivity. However, the stigmatic receptivity expressed as flowers with at least one receptive stigma, closely matches the duration of the EPP evaluated from fruit set experiments. This was consistent over the 2 years of experiments, in spite of the differences recorded in the EPP, suggesting that stigmatic receptivity is clearly the limiting factor of flower receptivity. This is the first report for stigmatic receptivity limiting the EPP in pears and suggests that stigmatic receptivity could be an important factor limiting pear flower receptivity and hence cropping performance under warmer conditions.

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