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Luca Corelli-Grappadelli and E. Magnanini

Based on a commercially available net photosynthesis (Pn) unit coupled to a custom-built chamber that does not require air conditioning, a low-cost system to measure whole-tree gas exchange in the field is described. The temperature in the chamber is influenced by air flow in relation to tree size. A flow of 20 liters·s-1 (equal to ≈1.5 chamber volume changes/min) was sufficient to maintain the leaves of an 11-year-old `Golden Delicious'/M.27 tree at a temperature similar to that of the ambient air and control CO2 gradients in the chamber. The system has been in operation on apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) trees for up to 4 months without modifying tree behavior.

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Jude W. Grosser

Citrus protoplast technology has advanced to where several practical applications in variety improvement and plant pathology are routine. We will report on progress in the following areas: somaclonal variation—`Valencia` and `Hamlin' sweet orange protoclones have been selected for improved juice color, higher soluble solids, seedlessness, and altered maturity dates; somatic hybridization for scion improvement—allotetraploid breeding parents have been created from numerous combinations of elite parental material, and are now being used as pollen parents in interploid crosses to produce seedless triploid varieties; somatic hybridization for rootstock improvement—numerous somatic hybrids combining complementary rootstock germplasm are under commercial evaluation and several look promising for wide adaptation, improved disease resistance, and tree size control; transformation—an alternative protoplast-based transformation that utilizes EGFP for selection has been developed; virus resistance assays—a protoplast-based assay is being used to screen varieties and candidate sequences for resistance to citrus tristeza virus at the cell level, saving time and greenhouse space.

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Richard H. Zimmerman

Small actively growing micropropagated trees of `Redspur Delicious' apple (Malus xdomestica Borkh.) were planted in an orchard at the end of May 1982. By Spring 1986, a lack of uniformity in tree size, appearance, and flowering was obvious. Only four of the 18 trees had a typical spur-type growth habit. These four trees had significantly more spurs per unit of shoot length, flowered sooner, had higher early fruit yields, and remained significantly smaller after 13 years in the orchard, but had significantly less cumulative yield than the nonspur types. Shoots from the spur-type trees were recultured in 1988 and the resulting trees planted in an orchard in 1990. These latter trees were uniform in appearance and all had typical spur-type growth with ≈30% more spurs per meter of shoot growth than the original trees from which they were propagated.

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Paula B. Aguirre, Teryl R. Roper, and Armand R. Krueger

The uptake efficiency of apple scions and rootstocks has not been studied in the field. Using 15N (ammonium nitrate, 1 atom % 15N) we compared nitrogen uptake efficiency of 12 rootstocks grafted to one scion (Gala) and of 20 scions on the same clonal rootstock (M.9 EMLA) in orchards located in northeastern Wisconsin. Trees were treated in either Fall or Spring 1998 with 40 g actual N per tree applied as a liquid to the soil. N uptake was assessed by measuring 15N in leaf and wood tissue taken monthly from June to Oct. 1998. Tissues were oven-dried and analized using a ratio mass spectrometer. Treatment differences were greater among scions with the same rootstocks than among rootstocks with the same scion. Total N and 15N content differences were found between roostocks and these values were inversely related to tree size.

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D.M. Glenn, W.V. Welker, and George M. Greene

Mature peach trees were grown in six different-sized vegetation-free areas (VFAs) (0.36 to 13 m2) with and without stage 3 drip irrigation for 6 years. As VFA size increased, so did the trunk cross-sectional area, canopy diameter, total yield/tree, large fruit yield/tree, and pruning weight/tree. The yield efficiency of total fruit and large fruit initially increased with the increasing size of VFAs and then remained stable over the range of VFAs. Applying supplemental irrigation increased yield of large fruit and leaf N percentage in all VFAs. Cold hardiness was not affected by VFA size or irrigation treatment. The smaller VFAs resulted in smaller, equally efficient trees. Sod management was an effective, low-cost approach to controlling peach tree size, and, when combined with irrigated, high-density production, potentially increased productivity.

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C.G. Embree, B.H. Lesser, and A.D. Crowe

The effects of 30 Kentville Stock Clone (KSC) selections on fruit size and color of `McIntosh' and `Delicious' apples (Malus domestica Borkh.) were monitored over 5 years. Fruit size was influenced by the rootstock and, when averaged over the duration of the study, ranged from 108 to 132 g and 131 to 161 g for `McIntosh' and `Delicious', respectively. Variation in fruit size due to crop load (CL) was greater for `McIntosh' than for `Delicious'. Fruit color was influenced by the rootstock in all years for `McIntosh' and in 3 of 5 years for `Delicious'; it was strongly associated with tree size for `Delicious' only. An overall performance index, which also included price based on quality, was developed, and the best performers in each size group were: semidwarf KSC 18 and 28; semivigorous KSC 7, 11, and 24; and vigorous KSC 3 and 6.

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C.V. Economides and C. Gregoriou

Tree growth, yield, and fruit quality of nucellar `Frost Marsh Seedless' grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macf.) on 15 rootstocks were evaluated under Cyprus conditions. Over the 9-year production period, trees on Palestine sweet lime, the group of rough lemon, and Citrus volkameriana Pasq. were more productive per unit of tree size, and their cumulative yields per tree were significantly higher than those of trees on sour orange, which is the standard rootstock commercially used in Cyprus. Rootstocks affected fruit size and weight, rind thickness, juice content, total soluble solids concentration (SSC), and total acids, but the differences were not large enough to affect the market value of the fruit, On the basis of the results of this trial and because sour orange is highly susceptible to tristeza, the C. volkameriana and rough lemon group, which are tolerant to tristeza, should be included in further trial plantings as a potential commercial rootstock.

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Uri Lavi, Emanuel Lahav, Chemda Degani, Shmuel Gazit, and Jossi Hillel

Genetic variance components for avocado (Persea americana Mill.) traits were estimated to improve avocado breeding efficiency. The additive and nonadditive genetic variance components were calculated from the variances between and within crosses. In all nine traits examined, i.e.-anise scent, fruit density, flowering intensity, fruit weight, harvest duration, inflorescence length, seed size, softening time, and tree size-a significant nonadditive genetic variance was detected. Additive genetic variance in all traits was lower and nonsignificant. The existence of major nonadditive variance was indicated also by narrow-sense and broad-sense heritability values estimated for each trait. Therefore, parental selection should not be based solely on cultivar performance. Crosses between parents of medium and perhaps even low performance should also be included in the breeding program.

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D.M. Glenn and W.V. Welker

Mature peach trees were grown in six different-sized vegetation-free areas (VFA) (0.36 to 13 m2) with and without stage-III drip irrigation for 6 years. As the VFA increased, so did the trunk cross-sectional area, total yield/tree, large fruit yield/tree, and pruning weight/tree. The application of supplemental irrigation increased yield of large fruit and leaf N percentage in all VFAs. Winter hardiness was not affected by either size of the VFA or irrigation. The yield efficiency of total fruit and large fruit decreased, however, with the increasing size of VFAs. The smaller VFAs resulted in smaller, more-efficient trees. Managing the size of the VFA was an effective, low-cost approach to controlling peach tree size and, when combined with irrigated, high-density production, offers a potential for increased productivity.

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Christopher L. Owens and Eddie W. Stover

Early fruit production and control of tree size are important factors in the economic viability of high-density apple orchards. A horticultural tool permitting growers to induce terminal budset should provide greater control over the balance between vegetative growth and reproduction, increasing orchard production and profitability. With this goal, the experimental GA-biosynthesis inhibitor, BAS-125W, is being evaluated for effects on enhancing floral initiation and controlling tree size in young orchards. In nursery stock, the effect of inducing earlier terminal budset is also being studied for influence on storage carbohydrates and performance after planting. Studies in 1996 showed that 250 ppm BAS-125W induced terminal bud set on actively growing second-leaf `Macoun', `Delicious', and `Fuji' trees. Seven application dates from 17 June to 9 Sept. were compared to determine how time of treatment would effect degree and distribution of flowering the following year. Terminal budset typically occurred 2 weeks after application, with shoot growth resuming in 4 to 5 weeks. At two dates, treatment of growing tips only was compared with entire tree application to distinguish the direct effect of GA-inhibition on floral initiation from the effect of redistributing photosynthate. Treatment from 17 June to 29 July significantly reduced total annual shoot growth compared to the untreated controls, while later treatments had no significant effect on shoot length. Treatments of nursery stock with BAS-125W on 1 Sept. accelerated terminal bud set by at least 7 days compared to untreated controls of both `Fuji' and `Golden Delicious'. Effects of treatments on flowering and tree growth in 1997 will be discussed.