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R.C. Ebel, W.A. Dozier Jr., M.L. Nesbitt, N.R. McDaniel, A.A. Powell, A. W. Caylor, and W.R. Okie

There are a limited number of peach and nectarine cultivars available with chilling requirements that perform well in the Gulf Coast area of Alabama. A test planting of 40 peach and 13 nectarine cultivars was established in 1985 at the Gulf Coast Substation at Fairhope, Ala. The plot was prepared and trees grown according to commercial procedures. Blocks of four trees of each cultivar were planted on a 6 x 6-m spacing. Chill hours were calculated each year based on number of hours at or below 7.3 °C; starting from and including the first 10 consecutive days a total of 50 hours were accumulated to 15 Feb. Data collected included date of full bloom, first harvest date, and total yield. Fruit were measured or rated for skin color, attractiveness, firmness, stone freeness, pubescence, flesh color, dessert quality, shape, weight, percentage with split pits, and occurrence of malformed sutures and extended tips. All cultivars were evaluated for 9 years (1987–95). The best performing varieties are discussed.

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W.R. Okie, T.G. Beckman, A.P. Nyczepir, G. L. Reighard, W.C. Newall Jr., and E.I. Zehr

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K.O. Britton, F.F. Hendrix, P.L. Pusey, W.R. Okie, C.C. Reilly, and J.W. Daniell

Two field experiments were conducted to assess peach (Prurus persica L.) cultivar susceptibility to the three Botryosphaeria spp. that cause peach tree fungal gummosis. Inoculated trees were evaluated for disease severity by rating gum exudation, vascular discoloration, and fungal colonization. Each severity measurement yielded a different rank ordering of cultivars for susceptibility. However, in a greenhouse study, these same measurements gave consistent rankings for aggressiveness of the fungal species on `Blake'. Despite large differences in disease severity in the greenhouse study, none of the severity measures were correlated with tree growth after inoculation. The only factor significantly correlated with growth rate of the trees after inoculation was growth rate before inoculation.

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W.R. Okie, G.L. Reighard, T.G. Beckman, A.P. Nyczepir, C.C. Reilly, E.I. Zehr, W.C. Newall Jr., and D.W. Cain

Long-term field trials of a wide range of peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] germplasm on two peach tree short-life (PTSL) sites revealed marked differences in survival among lines. Generally, cuttings and seedlings of a given line performed similarly, as did ungrafted seedlings and their counterparts grafted to a commercial cultivar. No apparent relationship existed between a line's chilling requirement and survival. B594520-9 survived best in Georgia and South Carolina, providing significantly greater longevity than Lovell, the standard rootstock for use on PTSL sites. B594520-9 is derived from root-knot-nematode-resistant parentage, and progeny of surviving seedlings have demonstrated root-knot resistance similar to Nemaguard seedlings.

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W.R. Okie, T.G. Beckman, G.L. Reighard, W.C. Newall Jr., C.J. Graham, D.J. Werner, A.A Powell, and G. Krewer

This paper describes the climatic and cropping conditions in the major peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] producing areas in the southeastern United States in 1996. The peach and nectarine crop was the smallest since 1955 due to a series of unusually cold temperatures in February, March, and April. Crop set was not strictly a function of late blooming. No variety produced a full crop across the region. Many reputedly hardy peaches cropped poorly. The only peach or nectarine varieties that produced substantial crops in multiple locations were `La Premiere', `Ruston Red', and `Contender'. Cropping ability of some breeding selections shows that peach frost tolerance may be improved further.

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Chad E. Finn and John R. Clark