Various Freezing Strategies of Flower-bud Hardiness in Prunus

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Mount Vernon Research and Extension Unit, 1468 Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, WA 98273-9788
  • 2 Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center, Prosser, WA 99350-9687

Flower buds of 20 Prunus species showed quite different strategies to cope with low temperatures. Buds of most species deep supercooled. The two hardiest species, both from the subgenus Padus (P. padus L. and P. virginiana L.), did not supercool and survived -33C with no bud kill. Prunus serotina J.F. Ehrh., also in Padus, did supercool. Prunus nigra Ait., P. americana Marsh, P. fruticosa Pall., and P. besseyi L.H. Bailey had a low minimum hardiness level (MHL), small buds, and a low water content. Exotherms were no longer detectable from the buds of these species after 2 days at -7C and some buds survived -33C. Prunus triloba Lindl. and P. japonica Thunb. were similar to that group, but no buds survived -33C. Prunus davidiana (Carriere) Franch., P. avium L., and P. domestica L. had a relatively high MHL but hardened rapidly when the buds were frozen. Prunus persica (L.) Batsch., P. subhirtella Miq., P. dulcis (Mill) D. A. Webb, and P. emarginata (Dougl. ex Hook) Walp. deep supercooled, had large flower buds and a high MHL, and were killed in the Dec. 1990 freeze. Prunus salicina Lindl., P. hortulana L.H. Bailey, P. armeniaca L., and P. tomentosa Thunb. were in an intermediate group with a moderately low MHL and a moderate rate of hardiness increase while frozen. Prunus dulcis and P. davidiana had a low chilling requirement and bloomed early, whereas P. virginiana, P. fruticosa, P. nigra, and P. domestica had high chilling requirements and bloomed late.

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