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K.G. Weis, S.M. Southwick, and Michael E. Rupert

Lack of pollen dispersal was noted in various sites and cultivars of sweet cherry (Prunus avium) following one of California's warmest recorded winters (≈550 hours @ 7°C in the Central Valley). `Bing' cherry is thought to require 850 to 880 hours for adequate budbreak and bloom development. Cross pollination is required by most sweet cherry cultivars for fruit set, including `Bing'. Complete anther dehiscence averaged 13% in `Bing' trees sampled, compared to 52% in `Rainier', 65% in `Brooks', 84.5% in `Burlat', 33% in Van, 23% in `Larian', and 86% in `Black Tartarian'. A range of degree of dehiscence from none to half-open was widely apparent, again by cultivar. Many partially dehiscent anthers did not shed pollen normally but appeared to have the mass of pollen completely adherent inside the pollen sacs. `Black Tartarian', `Larian', and `Burlat' shed pollen readily, however, pollen from dehiscent anthers of other cultivars generally appeared to stick together on the everted locule walls and required direct manipulation to be withdrawn from the pollen sac. Anther morphology ranged from normal size to half normal size, anthers appearing to be without pollen altogether that shriveled on drying, and lobes that were aborted. Pollen germination was low overall: 19% `Bing', 18% `Rainier', 20% `Brooks', 57% `Burlat', 14% `Van', 48% `Larian', and 48% `Black Tartarian'. Poor fruit set in low chill years is often attributed to lack of bloom overlap with pollenizers, however, inadequate chilling also may contribute to low fruit set by inhibiting anther and pollen growth and development. The implications of a critical chilling requirement for normal floral differentiation are that in cherry-growing areas where low chill years are common, pollen may not be viable or transferrable from pollenizers and female gametophytic development also may be impaired.

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Amnon Erez

Most of the works evaluating dormancy completion relies on measuring the level of budbreaking or the time needed for buds to break in forcing conditions. In all cases, the evaluation of budbreak is limited to the initial stages of bud opening in both vegetative and floral buds. Very rarely the response of the new growth is determined. It is accepted that dormancy completion of the bud is of a qualitative nature of yes or no. This reasoning led to using excised branches that can not support normally a growing bud but may support the evaluation of the emerging buds. In practice, the effect of breaking bud dormancy is far reaching and has an impact on the development after budbreaking. Growth vigor is a characteristic tied to the rate of dormancy completion in a quantitative manner. After exposure to sufficient chilling growth is rapid and vigorous. When buds are exposed to warm winters, growth is sluggish and poor. Under certain conditions, budbreak may be high, but all vegetative buds will form rosettes. Likewise with floral buds, they may break satisfactorily but will not set normal fruit especially in stone fruit species. In a recent study of bud dormancy inheritance in apricots, budbreak showed a clear dominance of the low chilling characteristic; level of vegetative vigor showed a similar effect to the high and low chilling parents. Thus, two characteristics of dormancy completion should be considered. The first is the level of budbreak and the other is the vigor of the growing vegetative buds and the functionality of the flower buds, as both are affected by the conditions that induce dormancy completion.

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S. Pérez-González

The variability of species under local ecosystems, particularly in response to temperatures during endodormancy, permits adaptation of temperate fruit trees to subtropical climates. Information about the behavior of endodormant fruit trees and seeds is based on a narrow genetic base from higher latitudes. This work was conducted to generate information about responses of endodormant seeds from several subtropical peach (Prunus persica L.) genotypes, as a basis for breeding and selection in these regions. Samples of peach seeds were collected from genotypes originating at a range of altitudes in tropical-subtropical regions to evaluate their responses to different temperatures and lengths of stratification periods. When seeds were stratified at 7 °C, some genotypes with very low-chilling requirement registered a high percent germination in <40 days, and all accessions studied reached 95% germination before day 80. When seeds were stratified at warmer temperatures (10 and 14 °C), germination started earlier and was high at 10 °C for most accessions. Although seeds of some late-blooming accessions germinated earlier at 10 or 14 °C than at 7 °C, percent germination was lower and time-response curves were flatter. This contrasts with previous reports on genotypes with high-chilling requirement, where no germination was registered at 14 °C. These observations provide a background for screening seedlings for adaptation to local conditions, and suggest that endodormancy models should be based on information generated from local genotypes when applied in subtropical regions.

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Gerard Krewer, D. Scott NeSmith, and Ben Mullinix

Poor blueberry leaf development is a serious problem in medium and low chilling regions which leads to smaller, later ripening fruit and reduced bush vigor. Dormex (hydrogen cyanamide) and Promalin or Accel (6-benzyl adenine plus gibberellins A4 and A7) were used in the experiments. Dormex 1991-1995 trials with applications at the end of the dormancy period (February) looked promising but were not uniformly successful. In 1996, applications were made starting in mid-dormancy (early-mid January) about 6-8 weeks before normal bud break. Spring vegetative bud development was greatly accelerated with minimal advance in flower development. Mid-dormancy Dormex rates of 1.5% to 2% appear promising. Dormex application after bud break or at excessively high rates will kill flower buds, but has excellent potential as a bloom thinning agent for juvenile blueberry plants. Promalin or Accel applications post bloom significantly accelerated spring leaf development. Late summer applications of Promalin significantly increased fall growth and number of side shoots.

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Dr. John R. Clark and P. Manjula Carter

The chilling requirements of the University of Arkansas blackberry cultivars Apache, Ouachita, and Prime-Jim*, and the primocane-fruiting selections APF-25, APF-27, APF-40, APF-42, APF-44, APF-46, APF-52, and APF-53 were investigated using stem cuttings from field-grown plants. A biophenometer was used to measure chilling (hours below 7 °C) in the field and 12-node cuttings of lateral shoots were taken from the cultivars every 100 hours up to 1000 hours below 7 °C. However, only 500 chilling hours had occurred at the time of this writing, and the response of budbreak to higher chilling levels could not be reported. The cuttings were placed in a mistchamber in the greenhouse with a daylength of 16 hours and air temperature of 26–29 °C. Percent budbreak was measured weekly. The cultivar × chilling interaction was significant (P = 0.05). `Apache' and `Ouachita' showed little or no budbreak up to 500 h, indicating a higher chilling requirement. The chilling requirement of Prime-Jim was determined to be between 300 h and 400 h, and that of the APF selections appeared to be between 300 h and 500 h. The chilling requirement of APF-53 could not be determined since budbreak was consistent at all levels of chilling up to 500 h. In general, the primocane-fruiting genotypes appeared to require less chilling than floricane-fruiting `Apache' and `Ouachita', and they would therefore be more suitable for low-chill locations.

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Miklos Faust, Dehua Liu, Merle M. Millard, and G.W. Stutte

Intact apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) buds were examined by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI did not excite water in unchilled apple buds and could not image it. When chilling was satisfied, images were produced. We interpret this difference to mean that water is in bound and/or structured form in dormant apple leaf buds before the chilling requirement is satisfied. Conversion of bound to free water occurred equally in the low-chilling-requirement cultivar Anna and the high-chillingrequirement cultivar Northern Spy only after 600 and 4000 hours of chilling, respectively. It appears that processes involved in satisfying chilling requirement are also converting water in buds from bound to free form. Absence of free water in dormant buds during the winter signifies endodormancy, whereas when the water is in free form, buds are ecodormant. Thidiazuron, a dormancy-breaking agent, applied to partially chilled buds is instrumental in converting water to the free form within 24 hours. Summer-dormant buds contain free water, and they could be classified only as paradormant. Based on proton profiles, ecodormant and paradormant buds cannot be distinguished but endodormant buds can be readily identified.

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Gregory A. Lang and Joshua Tao

Plant dormancy research has long been stifled by the lack of appropriate biochemical markers to characterize the changing physiological status of dormant vegetative or reproductive buds. Two sets of experiments were conducted in an attempt to identify changes in soluble protein profiles during endodormancy of peach and blueberry reproductive apices. Bud samples from the peach cultivars `La Festival' (low chilling requirement) and `La White' (moderate chilling requirement) were taken every 15 days in the orchard during December and January, extracted for soluble proteins, and analyzed by one-dimensional sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). Outshoots were forced at 25C in a growth chamber to determine the intensity of endodormancy. A further experiment utilized potted `Bluechip' and `Meader' (troth high chilling requirement) blueberry plants given varying periods of cold (4.5C) chamber treatment, followed by forcing at 25C in a growth chamber. Bud samples were taken following cold treatment for extraction and SDS-PAGE. The relationship of the resulting protein profiles to chilling unit accumulation and intensity of endodormancy will be discussed.

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Guadalupe Osorio-Acosta and Jorge Siller-Cepeda

Table grapes growing under desert conditions present a short and shallow rest mainly due to low chilling and high daily temperatures. Results using Evaporative Cooling (EC) have shown that rest is modified, and the opening of primary buds and number of clusters per plant depended on pruning date and cyanamide rate. From Oct 26 until Dec 30, rest depth was assessed under lab conditions on `Flame Seedless' canes from EC-treated and control vines. We found that rest depth was shallow and final budbreak was higher in EC-treated plants at all sampling dates. However, hydrogen cyanamide treated canes under both conditions showed no difference on final budbreak, although the opening of primary buds was higher on the EC-treated plants. Field trials were established to quantify the effect of pruning date associated with those treatments (EC and Control) on the number of clusters per plant. Plants were pruned on Dec 14, Dec 22, and Dec 30, and cyanamide (5% Dormex) was applied immediately. Plants under EC conditions and pruned on the earliest dates enhanced the number of cluster per vine by 40 and 21.7% respectively, as compared with control plants.

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Paul Lyrene

The best time to harvest fresh blueberries in Florida is 1 April to 15 May. Weather during this period is normally favorable for harvest: low rainfall, low humidity, warm, sunny days, and cool nights, and supplies of fresh blueberries from other producing areas are low. To ripen high-quality blueberries in April, the plants must flower in February and must have a full canopy of leaves to support the developing crop in March and April. Observations of thousands of blueberry seedlings and selections over the past 25 years in Florida have indicated that blooming and leafing time are affected by the chilling requirement and heat requirement of the variety and also by environmental factors. Factors that increase plant vigor (high soil fertility, ample moisture, and young plants) cause the plants to flower earlier in the spring. Flower buds that do not open by 15 Mar. in north Florida frequently abort. The timing and extent of this physiological bud abortion varies with cultivar. Some southern highbush cultivars leaf before they flower. Others flower before they leaf. The ideal blueberry variety for north Florida would have a very low chill requirement, a high heat requirement to prevent January flowering, and a short flowering-to-ripening interval.

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Gerard Krewer, D. Scott NeSmith, and Ben Mullinix

`Climax' blueberry is a major cultivar in Georgia, but because of its excessively low chilling requirement and early blooming habit, it has a poor cropping history in recent years due to spring freezes. Research was initiated to explore the potential for ethephon to delay bloom, without delaying ripening too much. In 1997-1998 a treatment of 200 ppm ethephon applied on 3 Nov. or 400 ppm applied on 17 Nov. delayed bloom 5 to 7 days compared to the control. There was no significant difference between the control and the ethephon treatment in flower bud density or fruit density in the spring. In 1998-1999 ethephon applications at 200 and 400 ppm were applied once or twice 2 weeks apart starting on 5 Oct. and ending 19 Nov. A bloom delay of about 7 days was achieved with most ethephon applications. However, an application of 400 ppm on 19 Oct. and 2 Nov. delayed bloom about 14 days compared to the control. There was a trend toward delayed fruit ripening with the most-effective bloom delay treatments, but the extent of delayed ripening was minimal. Berry weight was not effected by ethephon treatments.