Rootstock Effects on the Flowering of `Delicious' Apple. I. Bud Development

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, The Ohio State University, Wooster, OH 44691

Floral development was studied in buds of `Starkspur Supreme Delicious' apple trees growing on B.9, M.26 EMLA, M.7 EMLA, P.18, and seedling rootstocks. In each of 3 years, buds were sampled from the previous years growth at intervals throughout the growing season and dissected to determine whether the apex was domed, indicating the start of floral development. Number of bud scales and true leaves increased during the early part of the growing season, but remained fairly constant beyond 70 days after full bloom. The type of rootstock did not affect the number of bud scales or transition leaves, and effects on true leaf numbers were small and inconsistent. Final bract number per floral bud was similarly unaffected by rootstock. The proportion of buds in which flowers were formed was influenced by rootstock in only one year of the study, which was characterized by high temperatures and low rainfall over the period of flower formation. Bracts were observed only in floral buds, and became visible after doming of bud apices had occurred. Flowers were formed during the first 20 days in August, regardless of rootstock or year. The appendage number of vegetative buds was constant from 70 days after full bloom until the end of the growing season, but the number of appendages in floral buds increased due to the continued production of bracts. The critical bud appendage number for `Starkspur Supreme Delicious' before flower formation was 20, and was stable among rootstocks and years. Buds with diameters above 3.1 mm were generally floral, but on this basis only 65% of buds could be correctly classified. Spur leaf number, spur leaf area, and spur leaf dry weight were not good predictors of floral formation within the spur bud.

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