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A.P. Nyczepir, W.R. Okie, and T.G. Beckman

Peach tree short life (PTSL) is associated with the presence of ring nematode, Mesocriconema xenoplax, and poor orchard management practices. Finding a noncommercial field site to evaluate rootstocks for PTSL resistance is increasingly difficult. The time needed to create a PTSL test site was investigated. In 1994, a site not planted in peaches for >80 years was identified in Byron, Ga. Analysis of preplant soil samples revealed that there were no M. xenoplax on the site. One-third of the land was planted to peach and infested with 1600 ring nematodes per tree in Spring 1994 (P2) and another one-third in Spring 1995 (P1). The remaining one-third of the land received no trees or ring nematode and served as the control (F2). In Fall 1995, trees were removed from P1 and P2 plots and all treatments were replanted to peach in 1996. In 1997, tree death resulting from PTSL occurred only in P2 (7%). By 2000, PTSL tree death reached 41% in P2, 16% in P1, and 4% in F2 plots. Nematode populations were higher (P < 0.05) in P1 (649 ring nematode/100 cm3 soil) than in F2 (221 ring nematode/100 cm3 soil) plots, whereas populations in P2 (300 ring nematode/100 cm3 soil) plots did not differ from those in P1 or F2 plots. Establishing a PTSL screening site was possible 3 years after M. xenoplax introduction; PTSL development among treatments in the subsequent planting was dependent upon cumulative population exposure of trees to M. xenoplax.

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T.G. Beckman, W.R. Okie, and A.P. Nyczepir

Clonally replicated peach seedlings [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] of Lovell, Nemaguard, and four F1 selections of Lovell × Nemared were tested for field survival on a peach tree short life site. Rootstock families differed in growth, survival, and longevity. Genetic variation was similar to environmental variation for most families. Based on seedling within rootstock family, estimated broad-sense heritabilities for survival and longevity were high. The use of clonally replicated seedlings allowed the selection of apparently superior individuals from both Lovell and the other more short-lived rootstock families in a single screening.

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T.G. Beckman, W.R. Okie, and S.C. Meyers

Rootstock influence on bloom date and fruit maturation of `Redhaven' peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] was studied over a 3-year period. Rootstock included seedlings (Lovell, Halford, Bailey, and Siberian C) and cuttings (GF677, GF655.2, Damas 1869, and `Redhaven'). Bloom dates of the various combinations differed in all 3 years, with a range of 3.6, 9.1, and 7.3 days in 1988, 1989, and 1990, respectively. Fruit development period differed each year with a range of 3.9, 5.8, and 4.4 days in 1988, 1989, and 1990, respectively. `Weighted-average harvest date also differed with a range of 3.6,2.9, and 5.6 days in 1988, 1989, and 1990, respectively. `Redhaven'/Lovell was the latest blooming and maturing combination in all 3 years of the study.

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J. Rodriguez-A., W.B. Sherman, R. Scorza, M. Wisniewski, and W.R. Okie

The evergreen (EVG) peach, first described in Mexico, was used as a parent with deciduous (DE) peaches to develop F1 and F2 hybrid populations in Mexico, Florida, Georgia, and West Virginia. F1 trees were DE and F2 plants segregated 3 DE: 1 EVG. In West Virginia, the most temperate location, the heterozygous class could be distinguished in the first few years of growth by late leaf abscission in the fall. Segregation ratios suggest that the EVG trait is controlled by a single gene, evg, the EVG state being homozygous recessive. Evergreen trees were characterized by insensitivity of shoot tips to daylength and failure of terminal growth to cease growth until killed by low temperature. Lateral buds of EVG trees went dormant in the fall. Deep supercooling occurred in both EVG and DE trees, but it appeared later in EVG trees, was of shorter duration, and occurred to a lesser extent. Evergreen germplasm may be useful in developing peach cultivars for frost-free subtropic and tropical areas. It also presents a useful system for studying dormancy and cold hardiness.

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Marcia Vizzotto, Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, David H. Byrne, David W. Ramming, and W.R. Okie

Nineteen peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] genotypes and 45 plum (Prunus salicina Erhr. and hybrids) genotypes with different flesh and skin color were analyzed for their antioxidant content and activity. Anthocyanin content, phenolic content, and antioxidant activity were higher in red-flesh than in light-colored flesh peaches. Carotenoid content was higher in yellow-flesh peaches than in light-colored ones. Red-flesh plums generally had higher anthocyanin and phenolic contents than the other plums but not necessarily greater antioxidant capacity. The total phenolic content had the most consistent and highest correlation with antioxidant activity, indicating that it is more important in determining the antioxidant activity of peaches and plums than are the anthocyanin or carotenoid contents. In general, the wide range of phytochemical content and antioxidant activity found indicates that the genetic variability present can be used to develop cultivars with enhanced health benefits.

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C.E. Johnson, J.T. Payne, W.A. Young, D.H. Picha, and W.R. Okie

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T.G. Beckman, W.R. Okie, G. Krewer, and W.B. Sherman

The purpose of this three-way cooperative project is to develop new fresh-market peach and nectarine varieties in the 400 to 650 chill hour range for the early season shipping market. Since 1990, >3000 seedlings have been evaluated, resulting in 48 selections. Additionally, several hundred selections from other programs have been evaluated. `Sunsplash', an attractive, early season, 400 chill hour nectarine, was released in 1993 as a result of this cooperative effort. A novel aspect of the program has been the use of non-melting flesh parents for the purpose of improving handling characteristics. Selections include both yellow- and white-flesh types, peaches and nectarines. Some may be adapted for use in other production areas and are available for testing under non-propagation agreement. Evaluation summaries of selections and standards will be presented.

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Unaroj Boonprakob, David H. Byrne, Charles J. Graham, W.R. Okie, Thomas Beckman, and Brian R. Smith

Diploid plums (Prunus L. sp.) and their progenitor species were characterized for randomly amplified polymorphic DNA polymorphisms. Bootstrap analysis indicated the variance of genetic similarities differed little when the sample size was >80 markers. Two species from China (Prunus salicina Lindl. and P. simonii Carr.) and one species from Europe (P. cerasifera Ehrh.) contributed the bulk (72% to 90%) of the genetic background to the cultivated diploid plum. The southeastern plum gene pool was more diverse than those from California, Florida, or South Africa because of the greater contribution of P. cerasifera and P. angustifolia Marsh. to its genetic background.

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T.G. Beckman, G.L. Reighard, A.P. Nyczepir, and W.R. Okie

Thirteen rootstocks grafted with Redhaven peach were established on a severe peach tree short-life (PTSL) site in central Georgia. Most rootstocks tested were peach seedling types: Lovell, Nemaguard, Guardian (BY520-9), BY520-8, Boone County, Bailey and two `Tennessee Natural' selections. A seedling plum rootstock, St. Julian, was also used. Clonal type rootstocks included a peach × almond hybrid, GF677; plum, GF43 and Damas 1869; and a plum hybrid, GF655-2. Trees on Guardian displayed the best survival with only 20% mortality due to PTSL, through 7 years. In contrast, 40% of trees on Lovell succumbed to PTSL. Currently, Lovell is the recommended rootstock for PTSL-prone sites. Other rootstocks ranged from 50% to 100% mortality due to PTSL. Trees on Guardian displayed significantly higher vigor through the first 4 years following planting compared to trees on Lovell. Furthermore, trees on Guardian produced significantly greater yields than those on Lovell, in all but 1 year. Rootstock effects on tree survival, vigor, bloom and harvest dates, fruit yield and size, and suckering will be discussed.

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T.G. Beckman, W.R. Okie, A.P. Nyczepir, P.L. Pusey, and C.C. Reilly

Nearly 5000 seedling trees representing more than 100 peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch.] and plum (Prunus spp.) lines were planted at a 4 × 0.6-m spacing in Jan. 1983, on a site with a known history of peach tree short life (PTSL) and Armillaria root rot (ARR). Trees were arranged in a randomized complete-block with eight replicates of six trees each. Beginning in Spring 1984 and each year thereafter the cause of tree death was determined. At the end of 9 years, 50% of the trees had succumbed to PTSL and 35% had been killed by ARR apparently caused by Armillaria tabescens. Analysis of the data for trees killed by ARR showed a wide range in mortality, some peach lines appeared significantly more tolerant to ARR than others. Plum lines derived from native North American species also appeared to be a potential source of improved tolerance. We did not establish whether ARR tolerance is affected by PTSL.