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  • Author or Editor: Annalene Sadie x
  • HortScience x
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The variability of characteristics associated with prolonged dormancy in apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) progenies planted in the Western Cape region of South Africa was recorded over a three-year period. The time of initial vegetative and reproductive budbreak, the number of vegetative and reproductive budbreak, and the flowering duration were used as criteria. Data were collected on bearing trees of apple seedling families where the cultivars Anna and Golden Delicious were used as a common parent. Analysis of variance detected significant variation among seedling families for time of budbreak, number of breaking buds, and flowering duration in `Golden Delicious' families. `Braeburn' × `Golden Delicious' consistently produced seedlings with higher numbers of breaking buds and `Golden Delicious' × `Prima' showed significantly lower numbers than other `Golden Delicious' families. In `Anna' families, significant differences were found for time of budbreak. `Anna' families showed higher variability within families than `Golden Delicious' families. Comparisons of progenies of `Anna' and `Golden Delicious' showed large differences in variation for the time of budbreak and for duration of flowering. Mean budbreak of `Anna' progenies did not differ from `Golden Delicious' progenies. Associations were found between initial time of budbreak and number of breaking buds as well as time and flowering duration. Results reveal high genetic variance in prolonged dormancy symptoms among seedlings within apple families which can be directly ascribed to high levels of heterozygosity in the cultivars used, and should be further explored for the purposes of breeding and selection.

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Absence or long delay of budbreak, also known as prolonged dormancy, is the most important symptom during incomplete dormancy. Budbreak number was evaluated to quantify seedling response to chilling and selection on excised and intact 1-year-old apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) seedlings under controlled and natural environmental conditions. Indices based on: 1) the number and distribution of budbreak (prolonged dormancy grade = PDG); 2) the number of buds breaking, including shoot length with increased budbreak as part of the calculation (prolonged dormancy index = PDI); and 3) budbreak number per 100-cm shoot (NB) were tested in association with budbreak time (TB). The indices expressed the effects of cold treatments that induce earlier and higher numbers of budbreak. PDI and NB, but not PDG, identified families with increased budbreak. Seedlings with high PDG and NB were also associated with families in which high chill requiring parents were used, indicating that TB as pre-selection criterion may fail to identify seedlings with increased budbreak. Response to pre-selection for increased budbreak using PDG could be verified with the PDS and NB indices in seedlings and seedling clones. The NB of intact 1-year-old shoots under natural conditions is recommended as a pre-selection criterion against prolonged dormancy in suboptimal winter conditions.

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