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Mark A. Ritenour, Ed Stover, Brian J. Boman, Huating Dou, Kim D. Bowman, and William S. Castle

Rootstock significantly affected the development of stem-end rind breakdown (SERB) on `Valencia' and navel oranges (Citrus sinensis), but not `Ray Ruby' grapefruit (C. paradisi) or `Oroblanco' (C. grandis × C. paradisi), and affected postharvest decay on navel orange, `Ray Ruby' grapefruit, `Oroblanco' and one of two seasons (2002) on `Valencia' orange. In `Valencia' and navel oranges, fruit from trees grown on Gou Tou (unidentified Citrus hybrid) consistently developed low SERB. `Valencia' oranges on US-952 [(C. paradisi × C. reticulata) × Poncirus trifoliata] developed high levels of SERB in both years tested. Relative SERB of fruit from other rootstocks was more variable. Navel oranges, `Ray Ruby' grapefruit, and `Oroblanco' fruit from trees on Cleopatra mandarin (C. reticulata) rootstock consistently developed relatively low levels of decay, and in navel this level was significantly lower than observed from trees on all other rootstocks. In three of five trials we observed significant differences between widely used commercial rootstocks in their effects on postharvest SERB and/or decay. Given the expanding importance of sales to distant markets, it is suggested that evaluations of quality retention during storage be included when developing citrus rootstocks and scion varieties for the fresh market.

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Kelly T. Morgan, T. Adair Wheaton, William S. Castle, and Laurence R. Parsons

This study examined the effect of irrigation rates, nitrogen (N) fertilizer rates, and methods of applying N on growth and productivity of young (3 to 5 years old) and maturing (8 to 10 years old) citrus trees. A long-term study was conducted with the following objectives: 1) to measure the main effects of N rate, N application method, and irrigation on citrus tree growth and production from planting to maturity; 2) to establish growth and production relationships for long-term N rates and irrigation on well-drained sandy Entisols; and 3) to determine the effect of split fertilizer applications at two soil moisture regimes on citrus growth and production for two tree age classes as trees mature. Irrigation was applied using two selected ranges of soil moisture tensions and annual N rate varied by tree age as percentages of recommended. Methods of applying N included a dry granular fertilizer (DGF) containing soluble N applied four times annually or a controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) applied once per year and fertigation applied either four (FG04) or 30 (FG30) times annually. Canopy size and yield were higher with the moderate irrigation rate compared with the low rate for both young and maturing trees. Critical N rates for both canopy volume and yield were between 178 and 200 kg·ha−1. The CRF and FG30 treatments produced larger trees and higher yields compared with FG04 and DGF in the young tree study, indicating that younger trees benefitted from frequent split fertilizer applications. As the trees matured and filled their allocated space, the two irrigation rates were continued and N was applied at six rates using either DGF or FG30. For these 8- to 10-year-old trees, critical values of N application rates were 210 and 204 kg·ha−1 for DGF and FG30, respectively. The absence of a significant interaction between N rate and application method indicated that N uptake efficiency was similar for all application methods tested. DGF and FG30 treatments resulted in similar maturing tree yields and fruit total soluble solids. Canopy volumes, for the same trees, were significantly greater all 3 years with the FG30 treatment compared with DGF. Thus, if increase in tree size is desired, increased number of split applications will likely promote tree growth; however, little increase in fruit yield may be obtained.

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William S. Castle, Kim D. Bowman, James C. Baldwin, Jude W. Grosser, and Frederick G. Gmitter Jr.

Two adjacent rootstock trials were conducted in the east coast Indian River region of Florida with ‘Marsh’ grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macf.) scion. The objective was to find rootstocks to replace sour orange (C. aurantium L.) because of losses to citrus tristeza virus, and to replace Swingle citrumelo [C. paradisi × Poncirus trifoliata (L.) Raf.] because of its limited usefulness in certain poorly drained coastal sites. The trials were conducted in randomized complete blocks with 12 single-tree replicates spaced 4.6 × 6.9 m. The soils were of the Wabasso and Riviera series. The first trial consisted largely of trees on citrange [C. sinensis (L.) Osb. × P. trifoliata] and citrumelo rootstocks, ‘Cipo’ sweet orange (C. sinensis), and various hybrid rootstocks. The second trial involved mandarin rootstocks (C. reticulata Blanco) and sour orange and related rootstocks. Trees were grown for 7 years and yield and juice quality data were collected for the last 4 years of that period. Those rootstocks identified as the most promising, based on combinations of smaller tree size and high productivity and juice quality, were two Sunki mandarin × Swingle trifoliate orange (TF) hybrids (C-54, C-146), a Sunki mandarin × Flying Dragon TF hybrid, C-35 citrange, and a Cleopatra mandarin × Rubidoux TF hybrid (×639). The trees on these five rootstocks cropped well leading to soluble solids (SS) values of 3000 to 4000 kg/ha when they were 7-years old. The trees on C-54 and C-146 were relatively large, somewhat taller than trees on sour orange, whereas those on C-35 and the Sunki × Flying Dragon hybrid were smaller and similar to sour orange in tree height. Fruit quality among the trees on C-35 and the Sunki × Flying Dragon hybrid had relatively high SS concentration (better than sour orange), and the other three rootstocks had relatively lower solids concentration (poorer than sour orange). The trees on C-35 and the Sunki × Flying Dragon hybrid would be good candidates for higher density orchards.

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Xiuli Shen, Vladimir Orbović, Manjul Dutt, William S. Castle, and Frederick G. Gmitter Jr.

An efficient in vitro regeneration system through direct shoot organogenesis was established for Murraya paniculata (L.) Jack (Orange Jessamine). Epicotyls, leaves, roots, and cotyledons from in vitro-germinated seedlings and several plant growth regulators (PGRs) were evaluated for their effects on plant regeneration. Longitudinally cut epicotyl segments were observed to be the optimal explants followed by uncut epicotyls (not longitudinally cut). Roots, leaves, and cotyledons were not suitable as explants as a result of little or no shoot induction. Adventitious shoot induction was enhanced by the addition of 6-benzyladenine (BA). The highest percentage of shoot induction (87%) and the greatest number of shoots per explant (12.7) occurred on Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium supplemented with 15 μM BA from longitudinally cut epicotyls followed by 5.2 shoots per explant from uncut epicotyls. Optimal concentration of gibberellic acid (GA3) for shoot elongation was observed to be 15 μM. Eighty-five percent of the regenerated shoots produced roots with an average of three roots per shoot on MS medium supplemented with 5 μM indole-3-butyric acid (IBA). Our protocol for direct shoot organogenesis can potentially lead to the development of a robust method for production of transgenic plants of M. paniculata through Agrobacterium-mediated genetic transformation.

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William S. Castle, James C. Baldwin, Ronald P. Muraro, and Ramon Littell

Two field experiments with ‘Valencia’ sweet orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.] trees propagated on 12 rootstocks were conducted in commercial orchards. The objectives were to compare rootstock horticultural performance between two locations with soils representative of the Central Florida Ridge (AP) and coastal flatwoods (I), the major citrus-growing regions in Florida, and to see if financial analysis would provide an improved basis for interpreting rootstock performance. The randomized complete-block trials involved six-tree plots replicated eight or 10 times at planting densities of 358 trees (AP) or 252 trees (I)/ha, respectively. Tree growth and survival, yield, and juice quality were measured for 15 years. When losses occurred, trees were replaced annually with another one on the same rootstock. The data of seven rootstocks were subjected to a financial interpretation of three scenarios: tree loss and tree loss with or without tree replacement using the discounted cash flow and internal rate of return methods at a 15% rate. At the flatwoods location, when differences among replications became apparent on several rootstocks, soil data were collected to study its possible association to tree performance; also in this trial, 400-kg fruit samples were differentially harvested in 2 successive years from mature trees on each of five commercial rootstocks when the juice soluble solids/acid ratio was near 15. The juice was extracted, pasteurized, and evaluated for flavor by an experienced taste panel. The horticultural data obtained for trees on specific well-studied rootstocks [Volkamer (C. volkameriana Ten. & Pasq.)] and rough (C. jambhiri Lush.) lemons, Carrizo citrange [C. sinensis × Poncirus trifoliata (L.)], sour orange [C. aurantium (L.)], Cleopatra mandarin (C. reshni Hort. ex Tan.), trifoliate orange (P. trifoliata), a selection of sweet orange (C. sinensis), and Swingle citrumelo (C. paradisi Macf. × P. trifoliata) at both locations were typical of their well-documented performance in Florida and elsewhere. Tree losses were virtually only from citrus blight and ranged from none (sour orange) to greater than 50% (Volkamer and rough lemons) at both locations, although tree loss began later at the Central Florida location. ‘Valencia’ cuttings (only at the flatwoods site) were long-lived and cropped well for their smaller size compared with the budded trees. Taste panelists were not able to distinguish differences over two seasons among pasteurized ‘Valencia’ juices produced from trees on different rootstocks and normalized by soluble solids/acid ratio. Yield and planting density were the main factors affecting financial outcome; also, in the highly variable soils of the coastal flatwoods, trees growing in sites with greater depth to an argillic layer had 30% to 200% higher yields. Trees on Volkamer lemon had only ≈50% survival at both locations but had the highest ($7,338/ha I) or one of the highest cash flows ($13,464/ha AP) as compared with one of the commercial standards, Carrizo citrange ($6,928 I; $16,826 AP), which had only ≈25% tree loss. Inclusion of financial analysis, with certain limitations, was concluded to considerably improve rootstock selection decisions compared with selection based only on horticultural data.

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Sudip Kunwar, Jude Grosser, Fred G. Gmitter Jr., William S. Castle, and Ute Albrecht

Most of the commercially important citrus scion cultivars are susceptible to Huanglongbing (HLB), which is the most devastating disease the citrus industry has ever faced. Because the rootstock can influence the performance of the scion in various ways, including disease and pest tolerance, use of superior rootstocks can assist citrus growers with minimizing the negative effects of HLB. The objective of this study was to assess rootstock effects on the horticultural performance and early production potential of ‘Hamlin’ sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) trees in commercial field settings under HLB-endemic conditions. Two field trials were conducted in different locations in Central and Southeast Florida. The trials were established in 2015 and included 32 diverse diploid and tetraploid rootstock cultivars and advanced selections. One trial was performed in Highlands County, FL, on a poorly drained flatwoods-type site. Another trial was performed in Polk County, FL, on a well-drained sandy Central Florida Ridge site. Horticultural traits including tree height, canopy volume, trunk diameter, canopy health, leaf nutrient content, yield, and fruit quality were assessed during the 2018–19 and 2019–20 production years. Significant differences were found among trees on different rootstocks for most of the measured traits, particularly tree vigor and productivity, but rootstock effects also varied by location. Rootstocks that induced large tree sizes, such as the diploid mandarin × trifoliate orange hybrids ‘X-639’, ‘C-54’, ‘C-57’, and ‘C-146’, also induced higher yield, but with lower yield efficiency. Most of the tetraploid rootstocks significantly reduced tree size, among which ‘Changsha+Benton’, ‘Green-3’, ‘Amb+Czo’, ‘UFR-3’, and ‘UFR-5’ induced high yield efficiency. Therefore, these rootstocks have the potential to be used in high-density plantings. However, trees on some of these small size-inducing rootstocks had a higher mortality rate and were more vulnerable to tropical force winds. This study provides important information for the selection of rootstocks with the greatest production potential in an HLB-endemic environment, especially during the early years of production.