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  • Author or Editor: Desmond R. Layne x
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This experiment was designed to determine the optimal light level for growing pawpaw seedlings in the greenhouse. In addition, we wanted to determine if modifying the root-zone would positively impact pawpaw seedling growth and development. Experimental treatments were imposed from seed sowing until the plants were destructively harvested. The experimental design was a split-plot, where blocking was done by position in the greenhouse. The main plot of the experiment was shade. This was accomplished by growing seedlings under a wooden frame covered with shadecloth to reduce incident light intensity received by the plant by 30%, 55%, 80%, or 95%. The control treatment was 0% shade or ambient greenhouse light level. The split-plot was root-zone modification. Half of all growing containers were untreated (control) while the other half were painted with SpinOut™, a commercially available product used to reduce root spiraling in nursery containers. There were 40 replicate seedlings per experimental treatment combination per block. Seedling shoot length and unfolded leaf number was recorded twice a week from seedling emergence until destructive harvest. Whole-plant leaf area was also determined. Leaves, stems, and tap and lateral roots were separated and dried to determine biomass partitioned to the respective organs. Up to 55% shade did not significantly reduce whole-plant biomass, while plants at 80% and 95% shade were stunted. Shade in the greenhouse is not required as was previously thought. Specific leaf mass and lateral root mass decreased as shade increased. Neither tap or lateral root dry weights were significantly affected by root-zone modification. New recommendations for container production of pawpaws in the greenhouse will be discussed.

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The source-sink ratio of l-year-old, potted `Montmorency' sour cherry (Prunus cerasus) trees was manipulated by partial defoliation (D) or continuous lighting (CL) to investigate the phenomenon of end-product inhibition of photosynthesis. Within 24 hours of D, net CO2 assimilation rate (A) of the most recently expanded source leaves of D plants was significantly higher than nondefoliated (control) plants throughout the diurnal photoperiod. Between 2 and 7 days after D, A was 30% to 50% higher and stomatal conductance rate (g,) was 50% to 100% higher than in controls. Estimated carboxylation efficiency(k) and ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP) regeneration rate increased significantly within 2 days and remained consistently higher for up to 9 days after D. Leaf starch concentration and dark respiration rate decreased but sorbitol and sucrose concentration increased after D. The diurnal decline in A in the afternoon after D may have been due to feedback inhibition from accumulation of soluble carbohydrates (sucrose and sorbitol) in the cytosol. This diurnal decline indicated that trees were sink limited. By 9 days after D, photochemical efficiency was significantly higher than in control plants. In the long term, leaf senescence was delayed as indicated by higher A and gs in combination with higher chlorophyll content up to 32 days after D. CL resulted in a significant reduction of A, gs, k, variable chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv), photochemical efficiency, and estimated RuBP regeneration rate of the most recently expanded source leaves within 1 day. During the exposure to CL, A was reduced 2- to 3-fold and k was reduced up to 4-fold. The normal linear relationship between A and gs was uncoupled under CL indicating that A was not primarily limited by gs and since internal CO2 concentration was not significantly affected, the physical limitation to A imposed by the stomata was negligible. The decrease in Fv and photochemical efficiency indicated that leaves were photoinhibited within 1 day. The decrease in instantaneous chlorophyll fluorescence after at least 1 day of CL indicated that there was a reversible regulatory mechanism whereby the damage to photosystem II reaction centers was repaired. Leaf chlorophyll content was not altered by 1,2, or 3 days of exposure to CL, indicating that photooxidation of chlorophytl did not occur. The time to full photosynthetic recovery from CL increased as the duration of exposure increased. CL plants that were photoinhibited accumulated significant starch in the chloroplast in a companion study (Layne and Flore, 1993) and it is possible that an orthophosphate limitation in the chloroplast stroma was occurring. D plants that were continuously illuminated were not photosynthetically inhibited. After 7 days of CL, plants that were then partially defoliated yet remained in CL photosynthetically recovered within 5 days to pre-CL values. Under the conditions of this investigation, end-product inhibition of A occurred in young, potted sour cherry trees but the mechanism of action in D plants was different than in CL plants.

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The leaf surface area of l-year-old, potted `Montmorency' sour cherry (Prunus cerasus L.) trees was reduced by punching disks from some or all leaves to determine the threshold level of leaf area removal (LAR) necessary to reduce net CO2 assimilation (A) and whole-plant growth. Removal of 30% of the leaf area of individual leaves reduced A on a whole-leaf basis between 1 and 3 weeks following LAR. Less than 30% LAR was compensated for by higher estimated carboxylation efficiency and ribulose-l,5-bisphosphate (RuBP) regeneration capacity. The threshold level of LAR based on gas exchange of individual leaves was 20%. Although whole-plant dry weight accumulation was reduced at all levels of LAR, a disproportionately large decrease in dry weight occurred as LAR increased from 20% to 30%. This result indicates that 30% LAR exceeded the threshold LAR level that was noted for A (20% LAR). Wound ethylene production induced by leaf-punching ceased after 24 hours, which indicated that wounds had healed and that ethylene, therefore, did not influence A significantly. The observed threshoId of 20% LAR represents a significant compensation ability for sour cherry, but this threshold may change with crop load, environment, or both.

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The influence of increasing levels of trunk damage on vegetative and reproductive capacity of 3- to 5-year-old `Montmorency' sour cherry (Prunus cerasus L.) trees was determined for three seasons. Removal of or damage to bark up to halfway around the trunk circumference minimally affected growth and productivity. The total wound callus produced per tree was related to wound size. Wound repair was variable depending on the type or extent of injury. Removal of damaged bark greatly reduced wound repair. Girdling 75% or 100% of the trunk circumference resulted in no tree mortality at one site and 17% and 50% mortality, respectively, at another. Differentiated phloem in wound callus of trees with 100% bark removal and survival 4 years following injury indicated that vascular reconnection occurred across wounds.

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The pawpaw [Asimina triloba (L.) Dunal] is native to the southeastern United States and has potential as a new tree fruit crop. Clonal rootstocks are not currently available for pawpaw cultivars; therefore, nurseries graft cultivars onto rootstock derived from locally available seed. Great variation in rootstock vigor with this seedstock can result in grafted trees that lack vigor and have delayed fruit production. Pawpaw rootstocks that promote precocity would be desirable to growers. The objectives of this study were to determine if rootstock source and pruning system influenced precocity and field establishment of two pawpaw cultivars. In May 2004, a rootstock trial was planted at the Kentucky State University Research Farm that consisted of `Sunflower' and `Susquehanna' budded onto five seedling rootstocks (PA-Golden, Sunflower, Susquehanna, K8-2, and commercially available seed) with either a minimal or central leader pruning system. There were eight replicate blocks with each treatment combination, for a total of 160 trees. In Fall 2005, field mortality was greatest (58%) for `Susquehanna' budded onto Susquehanna seedling rootstock, whereas mortality was about 25% with other scion/rootstock combinations. The number of flower buds present on each tree was evaluated in Feb. 2006. Rootstock and pruning method did not influence the number of trees exhibiting flower buds. However, cultivar did influence the number of trees with flower buds; more trees of `Sunflower' (48%) had flower buds than `Susquehanna' (8%), and `Sunflower' (3.46) had more flower buds per tree than Susquehanna (0.43). Pruning system did influence the number of flower buds per tree; minimal pruned trees (2.65) had more flower buds per tree than central leader (1.21) trained trees.

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Clonal propagation of pawpaw is currently limited to budding and grafting. A tissue-culture system to rapidly produce clonal material would be valuable for both production and preservation of germplasm. Forced scion wood, shoots from root cuttings, and seedlings were explant sources for ontologically mature, intermediate, and juvenile ages, respectively. Preliminary data indicated that nodal explants had more rapid adventitious shoot formation than shoot tip explants. Disinfestation protocols were developed for each explant source. Nodal explants were cultured on MS medium supplemented with 10 μM BA and 0.1 μM TDZ. Within 3 weeks, 60% of the seedling explants had expanded axillary buds, while no bud expansion was observed for explants of either the intermediate or mature sources. By 6 weeks, seedling axillary shoots had elongated and were suitable for subculture. By 8 weeks, multiple adventitious buds and shoots had formed on all seedling explants. At this same time, axillary shoots began to elongate on intermediate source explants, but mature source explants appeared to be recalcitrant. Explant exudation caused medium darkening, but, by reducing the transfer interval from 4 to 2 weeks, discoloration was minimized. Mature source explants were maintained in culture and after ≈7 months, axillary bud expansion occurred in a small percentage of these explants.

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Little scientific information is available describing morphological development of pawpaw during seed germination. To provide this information, a study was designed to outline important developmental stages and describe seedling characteristics within each stage. Stratified pawpaw seeds were sown in vermiculite and germinated at 25°C in a growth chamber. Ten seedlings were randomly chosen and destructively harvested at 5-day intervals starting at radicle protrusion. Length (mm), fresh and dry weight, and percentage of total dry weight were determined for seedling components. Pawpaw seeds have a small rudimentary embryo with all food reserves stored in a ruminate endosperm. Dry weight measurements showed a dramatic reallocation of reserves from the storage tissue to developing seedling parts. Initial embryo length was less than 3 mm, but within 70 days seedlings exceeded 350 mm. Twelve days after planting, simultaneous radicle and cotyledon growth occurred (3.4 and 3.0 mm, respectively), but neither hypocotyl nor epicotyl was visible. Radicle protrusion was observed at 15 days with radicle, cotyledon and hypocotyl lengths increasing to 4.4, 4.0, and 3.2 mm, respectively. Endosperm comprised 99.1% of total dry weight at this stage. The hypocotyl hook emerged after 30 days and endosperm comprised 76.1% of total dry weight. Cotyledons reached maximum length (29.0 mm) at day 40 and the epicotyl was discernible. At 55 days, the seed coat containing cotyledons and residual endosperm abscised and the average radicle, hypocotyl and epicotyl lengths were 182.0, 61.1, and 7.3 mm, respectively. It is suggested that the cotyledons primary function is absorption of food reserves from the endosperm for transfer to the developing seedling.

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The evaluation of peach and nectarine cultivars and advanced selections for suitability of production in the southeastern U.S. has been conducted at Clemson Univ. since 2000. Currently, there are 240+ cultivars and advanced selections being tested at the university's Musser Fruit Farm in Seneca, S.C. The harvest season begins in early May and ends in the middle of September. Additionally, two on-farm grower trials were planted in the primary peach growing regions of the Piedmont (Cowpens, S.C.) and the Ridge (Monetta, S.C.). At the grower locations, advanced selections are compared with industry standard cultivars. Evaluation data collected includes bloom and ripe date, fruit set, shape, color, size, firmness, taste and disease susceptibility. Digital photos are taken to scale at commercial maturity. Evaluation information, photos, plus chill hours, variety descriptions and other valuable information are on the website. In 2004, substantial improvements were made to the site utilizing a database, search and compare tools. The website has been well received by the southeastern commercial peach growers and is utilized to assist them in cultivar selection and to learn more about peach culture in general.

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The utility of isozyme phenotypes for identifying and determining genetic variation in pawpaw cultivars was studied using isoelectric focusing in thin-layer polyacrylamide gels. Based on a sample of 32 clones (cultivars and advanced selections) and 23 enzyme systems, 7 enzymes were found to be polymorphic, involving 9 polymorphic loci [acid phosphatase (ACP), dihydrolipoamide dehydrogenase (DDH), malic enzyme (ME), phosphoglucoisomerase (PGI), phosphoglucomutase (PGM), peroxidase (PRX), and shikimate dehydrogenase (SKD)]. Altogether these 9 loci and 32 clones yielded 28 multi-locus isozymic phenotypes useful for cultivar identification; 24 of the 32 clones were uniquely identified. The allozyme variation in these clones has the average of other long-lived woody perennials of widespread geographic range in temperate regions with insect-pollinated outcrossing breeding systems, secondary asexual reproduction, and animal-dispersed seed. Genetic differentiation among these pawpaw clones, measured by Nei's distance, D, was substantial: 496 pairwise comparisons of genetic distance among the 32 clones indicated that they differed on average of D = 0.068 ± 0.04 and ranged from 0 to 0.188. Cluster analysis (UPGMA) produced a most likely division of the 32 clones into 7 groups; however, these groups did not conform to known pedigree relations. Additional polymorphic enzymes are needed for accurate allozyme-based genetic discrimination.

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Replicated trials were conducted in summers of 1998 and 1999 at two commercial orchards (A and B) to determine the influence of a metalized, high-density polyethylene reflective film (SonocoRF, Sonoco Products Co., Hartsville, S.C.) and ReTain (Abbott Laboratories, Inc., N. Chicago, Ill.), on fruit red skin color and maturity of `Gala' apples. There were four experimental treatments: i) Control; ii) Reflective Film (RF); iii) ReTain; and iv) RF + ReTain. RF was laid 4 weeks before anticipated first pick date by laying a 5-ft-wide strip of plastic on either side of the tree row in the middle. ReTain was applied 4 weeks before harvest at the commercial rate in one orchard (A) and at 60% the commercial rate in the other orchard (B). At harvest, two 50-fruit samples were picked from each of four replicate blocks per treatment. All fruit were sized and visually sorted for color (1 = 0% to 25%, 2 = 26% to 50%, 3 = 51% to 75%, and 4 = 76% to 100% red surface, respectively). A 10-fruit subsample was selected following color sorting and evaluated for puncture pressure, soluble solids concentration (SSC) and starch hydrolysis. ReTain delayed maturity and reduced preharvest drop of `Gala'. Fruit from RF trees had a significantly greater percent red surface than fruit from trees not treated with RF. Fruit from RF + ReTain were significantly redder and had higher SSC than fruits from trees treated with ReTain alone. There were no differences in size, puncture pressure or starch hydrolysis between RF and RF + ReTain. RF appears to be a means to ensure greater redness in `Gala' treated with ReTain in South Carolina.

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