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  • Author or Editor: R.C. Ebel x
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Twelve peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] seedling rootstocks [Lovell, Nemaguard, Flordaguard, 14DR51, five Guardian™ (BY520-9) selections, and three BY520-8 selections] budded with `Cresthaven' were planted in 1994 and evaluated through 2000 to determine performance under commercial management practices. Mesocriconema xenoplax population densities were above the South Carolina nematicide treatment threshold of 50 nematodes/100 cm3 of soil after 1996. However, symptoms of peach tree short life (PTSL) were not observed. Tree mortality was less than 14% through 1999, with most of the dead trees exhibiting symptoms consistent with Armillaria root rot. About 13% of the surviving trees in 1999 were removed in 2000 due to symptoms of phony peach. There were no differences in tree mortality among rootstocks. Tree growth, photosynthesis, and suckering varied among rootstocks, but leaf conductance, internal CO2, and leaf transpiration did not. Foliar calcium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus varied among rootstocks, but all were within the range considered sufficient for peach trees. Fruit yield varied among rootstocks, but yield efficiency did not, indicating that higher yield corresponded with larger trees. Bloom date did not vary among rootstocks, but harvest date was advanced as much as 2 days for some rootstocks, compared to Lovell. Fruit weight varied among rootstocks but skin color, flesh firmness, and soluble solids content were similar. All rootstocks performed satisfactorily for commercial peach production.

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Effects of Tergitol-TMN-6 surfactant on blossom thinning (fruit set), fruit quality, and yield were studied in different cultivars of peach (Prunus persica [L.] Batsch) during 2003 to 2005, and in one cultivar of nectarine Prunus persica [L.] in one orchard and one cultivar of plum (Prunus domestica [L.]) in two orchards in 2004. In addition to Tergitol-TMN-6, effects of Crocker's fish oil (CFO) alone in three peach cultivars or in combination with lime sulfur in a nectarine cultivar were studied on fruit set, quality, and yield. Tergitol-TMN-6 at 5 mL·L–1 or higher rates, applied at about 75% to 85% bloom, reduced fruit set without russeting peach fruit. Peach fruit size was often increased by Tergitol-TMN-6 treatment. Applications of Tergitol at 20 mL·L–1 or 30 mL·L–1 excessively thinned peaches. Tergitol-TMN-6 at all rates burned foliage, but the symptoms disappeared after a few weeks without any adverse effects on tree productivity. Tergitol-TMN-6 at 7.5 mL·L–1 or 10 mL·L–1, applied either once at about 80% to 85% bloom or twice at 35% bloom and again at 80% to 85% bloom, reduced fruit set without any fruit russeting in nectarine. Tergitol-TMN-6 at 7.5 mL·L–1 to 12.5 mL·L–1 reduced fruit set in `Empress' plum. CFO at 30 mL·L–1 was effective in blossom thinning of some peach cultivars. A combination of lime sulfur and CFO was not effective in blossom thinning of nectarine. Considering results from several orchards in different locations in the Pacific Northwest over 3 years, Tergitol-TMN-6 is an excellent blossom thinner for peach, nectarine, and plum at rates of 7.5 to 12.5 mL·L–1, sprayed at a spray volume of 1870.8 L·ha–1 when about 75% to 85% blooms are open.

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Satsuma mandarins (Citrus unshiu) have been produced intermittently along the Gulf Coast for over a century. However, very little is known about the market potential for this citrus fruit in today's consumer markets. This study evaluated consumer preferences for seven external attributes over a range of levels: price ($1.07, $2.18, or $4.39/kg), color (green-yellow, yellow-orange, or orange), size (5.08, 6.35, or 7.62 cm in diameter), seediness (0, 3, or 7 seeds), blemishes (0, 1.91, or 3 cm in diameter), production region label (Alabama or U.S.A.), and organic production (yes or no). Consumers from grocery stores in nine cities in Alabama and Georgia were asked to evaluate 20 photographs of various combinations of these attribute levels using a seven-point intention-to-buy scale. 605 useable surveys were collected and a conjoint analysis was conducted to determine the strength of preference for the attribute levels and the relative importance for attributes. Three consumer segments were identified by cluster analysis of strengths of preferences: the no-blemish segment (37% of sample), the price-sensitive segment (23% of sample), and the no-seeds segment (41% of sample). A multinomial logit analysis identified several demographic, socioeconomic, and usage variables as significant determinants of segment membership.

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Estimates of long-term freeze-risk aid decisions regarding crop, cultivar, and rootstock selection, cultural management practices that promote cold hardiness, and methods of freeze protection. Citrus cold hardiness is mostly a function of air temperature, but historical weather records typically contain only daily maximum (Tmax) and minimum (Tmin) air temperatures. A mathematical model was developed that used Tmax and Tmin to estimate air temperature every hour during the diurnal cycle; a cold-hardiness index (CHI500) was calculated by summing the hours ≤10°C for the 500 h before each day; and the CHI500 was regressed against critical temperatures (Tc) that cause injury. The CHI500 was calculated from a weather station located within 0.1 km of an experimental grove and in the middle of the satsuma mandarin (Citrus unshiu Marc.) industry in southern Alabama. Calculation of CHI500 was verified by regressing a predicted CHI500 using Tmax and Tmin, to a measured CHI500 calculated using air temperatures measured every hour for 4 winter seasons (1999-2003). Predicted CHI500 was linearly related to measured CHI500 (r 2 = 0.982). However, the slope was a little low such that trees with a CHI500 = 400, near the maximum cold-hardiness level achieved in this study, had predicted Tc that was 0.5 °C lower than measured Tc. Predicted and measured Tc were similar for nonhardened trees (CHI500 = 0). The ability of predicted Tc to estimate freeze injury was determined in 18 winter seasons where freeze injury was recorded. During injurious freeze events, predicted Tc was higher than Tmin except for a freeze on 8 Mar. 1996. In some freezes where the difference in Tc and Tmin was <0.5 °C there were no visible injury symptoms. Injury by the freeze on 8 Mar. 1996 was due, in part, to abnormally rapid deacclimation because of defoliation by an earlier freeze on 4-6 Feb. the same year. A freeze rating scale was developed that related the difference in Tc and Tmin to the extent of injury. Severe freezes were characterized by tree death (Tc - Tmin > 3.0 °C), moderate freezes by foliage kill and some stem dieback (1.0 °C ≤ Tc - Tmin ≤ 3.0 °C), and slight freezes by slight to no visible leaf injury (Tc - Tmin < 1.0 °C). The model was applied to Tmax and Tmin recorded daily from 1948 through 2004 to estimate long-term freeze-risk for economically damaging freezes (severe and moderate freeze ratings). Economically damaging freezes occurred 1 out of 4 years in the 56-year study, although 8 of the 14 freeze years occurred in two clusters, the first 5 years in the 1960s and 1980s. Potential modification of freeze-risk using within-tree microsprinkler irrigation and more cold-hardy cultivars was discussed.

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