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Seven Rubus cultivars were evaluated at two locations in Arkansas, northwest (Fayetteville) and southwest (Hope), to evaluate plant growth differences under high and very high summer temperature conditions. Temperatures during the hottest month (July) averaged 34 °C and 38 °C for Fayetteville and Hope, respectively. Growth; leaf area and number; and fresh and dry weights of leaves, stems, and roots were measured on the containerized raspberry cultivars Autumn Bliss, Dormanred, Heritage, Nova, Reveille, and Southland and the blackberry cultivar Arapaho. Growth measurements included number of canes per plant, number of laterals per cane, cane length, node number, and internode length. Measurements were taken monthly from June through September. Leaf areas were done after all growth measurements were taken at both locations in September. Variation occurred among cultivars and locations for leaf area, fresh and dry weights, growth, and leaf number. Plant death occurred at the Hope location, with `Heritag', `Reveille', and `Southland' all having plant mortality, while `Dormanred' and `Arapaho', both southern-adapted cultivars, had the greatest fresh and dry weights. The Fayetteville location had no plant loss after initial emergence in spring, and this more moderate environment probably contributed to higher plant survival. Our data indicated that only `Dormanred' and `Arapaho' achieved adequate survival and growth in the very high temperatures of the Hope location, whereas other cultivars (Reveille and Southland) with some southern U.S.-adapted germplasm, showed poor adaptation to the environments of our study. Our findings reflect the impact of high heat on non-adapted germplasm and reveal information on adaptation levels needed for parental consideration in breeding for southern conditions.

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Quantifying fruit shape is challenging, particularly when measurements are made on segregating populations of plants that vary greatly in shape. Objective manual measurements can be performed on small samples of fruit, but this method is not feasible when dealing with larger samples or when shape variations are slight and continuous. Also, subjective rating scales can be utilized, but they are less effective when done by multiple raters due to varying descriptive standards among individuals. Therefore, we have developed a method to analyze digital images containing multiple fruits to characterize fruit shapes. Each segregant of a population of table grapes with parents of significant varying shapes was photographed and analyzed. Image pixels representing fruit were selected and evaluated for area and perimeter, which were subsequently used to calculate a shape factor and compactness value. This was a reasonably simple and quick method for quantifying grape berry shape, giving the researcher valuable phenotypic data in numerical form. This technology should be useful for shape characterizations of other fruits as well.

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Studies were conducted from January to November of 2005 to determine the effect of root-cutting length on adventitious shoot yield and the management practices necessary to produce nursery-quality blackberry plants. The first portion of the study measured the average number of shoots produced from 7.6 and 15.2 cm long root cuttings of APF-44 blackberry—a primocane-fruiting clone (not available in commerce) from the University of Arkansas breeding program. Cuttings were forced in a shallow bin containing soilless potting media. The average number of shoots per root cutting from 7.6- and 15.2-cm-long root cuttings averaged 1.6 and 2.7 shoots per root cutting, respectively. Rooting percentage of shoots was near 100% regardless of root cutting length and produced rooted plants of equal quality. The latter part of the study included various treatments on the rooted shoots that might affect the productivity and quality of the final product intended for nursery sales in early fall. With the aim of producing a flowering/fruiting shrub by late September, three treatments were applied: pot dimension, fertilizer rate, and shoot tipping. Fertilizer rate had the greatest impact of all treatments. Above normal summer/fall temperatures may explain lack of fruiting on APF-44 blackberries, but the dimension and size of some plants provided a portion of the intended aesthetic.

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A study was conducted in the Winter–Spring 2004 to evaluate the effects of seed (pyrene) scarification period on blackberry (Rubus L. subgenus Rubus) genotypes that had a range of seed weights. The study was done in an attempt to identify optimum scarification period for variable seed weights for the purpose of increasing germination of blackberry seeds produced from hybridizations in the Arkansas blackberry breeding program. Scarification treatments of 1, 2, or 3 hours were used on 14 genotypes. Seeds were then stratified for 3.5 months and sowed on a commercial potting medium in a heated greenhouse. Germinating seedlings were counted over a 15-week period and total germination determined. Data analysis indicated significant genotype effect on germination but no scarification treatment nor genotype × scarification treatment interaction significance. The results indicated that scarification period did not affect germination and varying this period predicated on seed weight was not beneficial based on the genotypes used in the study.

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`White Rock' and `White County' fresh market peaches (Prunus persica (L.) Batsch) were released in 2004 by the University of Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. These cultivars join `White River' as recent products of the peach breeding program which is based at the University of Arkansas Fruit Substation, Clarksville. Both cultivars are sub- or low-acid types and have white flesh. `White Rock' ripens at on average 25 June, and is very firm at maturity. Average fruit weight was 142 g with 12% soluble solids and light white peach flavor. `White County' ripens on average 14 July. It is large fruited with average weight of 258 g and maintains firmness until full maturity. The fruits are freestone with an excellent white peach flavor. Both cultivars show good bacterial spot resistance although occasional lesions are seen on leaves. These new cultivars offer additional white peach cultivar choices for the mid-South and other areas of similar climate.

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A tetraploid blackberry population that segregates for two important morphological traits, thornlessness and primocane fruiting, was tested with molecular marker analysis. Both randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) and simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers were used to screen a population of 98 genotypes within the population plus the two parents, `Arapaho' and `Prime-Jim' (APF-12). RAPD analysis averaged 3.4 markers per primer, whereas SSR analysis yielded 3.0 markers per primer pair. Similarity coefficient derived from the Dice index averaged over all individuals was 63% for RAPD markers, 73% for SSR markers, and 66% for RAPD and SSR markers together. The average similarity coefficients ranged from a high of 72% to a low of 38% for RAPD markers, 80% to 57% for SSR markers, and 73% to 55% for both. Comparison of the parents indicated a similarity of 67% for RAPD markers, 62% for SSR markers, and 67% for both. This is similar to a previous study that reported the similarity coefficient at 66%. Although inbreeding exists within the population, the level of heterozygosity is high. Also, evidence of tetrasomic inheritance was uncovered within the molecular marker analysis. This population will be used to identify potential markers linked to both morphological traits of interest. Further genetic linkage analysis and mapping is needed to identify any putative markers.

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