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  • Author or Editor: Gregory A. Lang x
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Abstract

Attempts to discuss the various aspects of plant dormancy can be bewildering due to the excessive number of nonphysiological, independent terms that have arisen over the years. In the context of field observations and orchard management, this terminology has often been adequate. However, in the complex realm of scientific description of the processes that constitute dormancy, the terminology has not been able to keep pace with physiological investigation. In 1985, a set of alternative terms, endodormancy, ectodormancy, and ecodormancy, were suggested to improve the situation (14). During the past 2 years, R. Darnell, J. Early, G. Martin, and I have reviewed the dormancy literature to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of new and previous terms. At various times, N. Arroyave, R. Biasi, R. Femandez-Escobar, G. Stutte, and others from around the world have contributed greatly to discussion and critical analysis of the requirements for a physiological nomenclature. In 1986, ectodormancy was replaced by paradormancy (16) due to the former’s spoken and written similarities to ecodormancy. This paper summarizes the communicative burden presented by the current terminology, the evolution of the new terms, the universal classification system in which the terms are used, and the implications for future dormancy research. These topics are presented in greater detail elsewhere (15).

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Sweet cherries (Prunus avium) can be one of the most profitable tree fruit cultivated in temperate climates. While cherry trees grow naturally to relatively tall heights, new size-controlling cherry rootstocks similar to those used in high-density apple orchards are now a reality. The Gisela series from Germany, the Gran Manier series from Belgium, the Weiroot series, the P-HL series, Tabel Edabriz, and others of international origin are at various stages of scientific and field testing in North America, with some now moving into commercial fruit production. These stocks confer several highly advantageous traits besides vigor control, including precocious fruiting and high productivity. While these obvious traits are exciting, serious problems have also been documented, on occassion, with such phenomena as small fruit size and tree decline. As many of these rootstocks are interspecific Prunus hybrids, might there be significant limitations for fruit quality and orchard longevity? What is known about their susceptibilities to pathogens and pests? What is known about their tolerance to various soil types and/or climatological stresses? Further, with the U.S. and worldwide orchard area planted to fresh-market sweet cherries already expanding to record levels throughout the 1990s and a time-honored agricultural trend toward overproduction until grower profits are minimized (see recent international apple markets), what might be the future impact of such precocious, productive rootstocks on sweet cherry profitability and sustainable production? This overview will address these topics, providing some answers and some areas for future scientific investigation and discussion.

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Sweet cherries (Prunus avium L.) can be one of the most profitable tree fruits cultivated in temperate climates. While cherry trees grow naturally to relatively tall heights (≈35 ft [≥10 m]), new size-controlling cherry rootstocks similar to those used in high-density apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) orchards are now a reality. The Gisela (GI.) and Weiroot (W.) series from Germany, the Gran Manier (GM.) series from Belgium, the P-HL series from Czech Republic, `Tabel Edabriz' from France, and others of international origin are at various stages of scientific and field testing in North America, with some now being used for commercial fruit production. These stocks confer several advantageous traits besides vigor control, including precocious fruiting and high productivity. While these beneficial traits are exciting, serious problems also have been documented on occasion, such as small fruit size and tree decline. As many of these rootstocks are interspecific Prunus L. hybrids, might there be significant limitations for fruit quality and orchard longevity? What is known about their tolerance to various soil types and/or climatological stresses? What is known about their susceptibilities to pathogens and pests? Further, with the U.S. and worldwide orchard area planted to fresh-market sweet cherries already expanding to record levels throughout the 1990s and a time-honored agricultural tendency toward overproduction until grower profits are minimized (e.g., recent international apple markets), what might be the future impact of such precocious, productive rootstocks on sweet cherry profitability and sustainable production? This overview addresses these topics, providing some answers and some areas for future scientific investigation and industry discussion.

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High tunnel production systems typically use horticultural crops that are annually or biennially herbaceous, high in value, short in stature, and quick to produce. At best, tree fruits may fit only one of these criteria–high value. Sweet cherry (Prunus avium) may command high enough values in premium market niches to make high tunnel production strategies worth attempting. Furthermore, sweet cherry production can be a risky endeavor, even in optimal climates, due to the potentially devastating effects of preharvest rain that cause fruit cracking. Consequently, environmental modification by tunnels in regions like the Great Lakes provides a significant risk reduction. Additional potential benefits, such as protection from frosts, diseases, insects, wind scarring, etc., add further production value. Multi-bay high tunnels were constructed in 2005 at two Michigan State University experiment stations, over established and newly planted sweet cherry trees on dwarfing rootstocks, to study and optimize the effects of production environment modification on vegetative and reproductive growth, marketing season extension, and protection of cherries from diseases, insect pests, and/or physiological disorders. Results with tunnels thus far include premium fruit quality and high crop value; increased leaf size and terminal shoot growth; decreased radial trunk growth; decreased chemical pesticide inputs; decreased incidence of cherry leaf spot (Blumeriella jaapii) and bacterial canker (Pseudomonas syringae); increased incidence of powdery mildew (Podosphaera clandestina); inconclusive effects on brown rot (Monolinia fructicola); no or reduced infestation by plum curculio (Conotrachelus nenuphar) or cherry fruit fly (Rhagoletis cingulata); dramatically reduced japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) damage; and increased black cherry aphid (Myzus cerasi) and two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) populations.

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Southern highbush (“low chill tetraploid”) blueberries are an earlier-ripening, self pollen-compatible alternative to rabbiteye blueberries. `Sharpblue', the first southern highbush cultivar planted on a commercial scale, has been shown to require cross-pollination for optimal fruit size and earliness of ripening. `Gulfcoast', a recently released cultivar for Gulf states growers of about latitude 30 to 32 N, differs in heritage from `Sharpblue', incorporating about 50% more self-compatible northern highbush germplasm. `Gulfcoast' fruit development after honey bee-mediated self- or cross-pollination with `Sharpblue' was similar in terms of set (85.5 vs. 82.2%), weight (1.26 vs. 1.18g), and seed number (32.8 vs. 33.6), respectively. Cross-pollination did not result in significantly earlier ripening. Thus, `Gulfcoast' appears to be more self-fertile than `Sharpblue'. Other closely-related cultivars are being examined to determine the genetic influence on potential for self-fruitfulness.

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To initiate photosynthetic studies of sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) canopy architectures and cropping management under high light and temperature conditions (Yakima Valley, Wash.), we developed a whole-canopy research cuvette system with a variable airflow plenum that allowed different patterns of air delivery (in concentric circles around the trunk) into the cuvette. Air and leaf temperatures (Tair and Tleaf, respectively) were determined at four horizontal planes and four directional quadrants inside cuvette-enclosed canopies trained to a multiple leader/open-bush or a multiple leader/trellised palmette architecture. Air flow rate, air delivery pattern, and canopy architecture each influenced the whole-canopy temperature profile and net CO2 exchange rate (NCER) estimates based on CO2 differentials (inlet-outlet). In general, Tair and Tleaf were warmer (≈0 to 4 °C) in the palmette canopy and were negatively correlated with flow rate. The response of Tair and Tleaf to flow rate varied with canopy position and air delivery pattern. At a flow of 40 kL·min-1 (≈2 cuvette volume exchanges/min), mean Tair and Tleaf values were 2 to 3 °C warmer than ambient air temperature, and CO2 differentials were 15-20 μL·L-1. Tair and Tleaf were warmer than those in unenclosed canopies and increased with height in the canopy. Carbon differentials declined with increasing flow rate, and were greater in the palmette canopy and with a less dispersed (centralized) delivery. Dispersing inlet air delivery produced more consistent values of Tair and Tleaf in different canopy architectures. Such systematic factors must be taken into account when designing studies to compare the effects of tree architecture on whole-canopy photosynthesis.

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Seasonal uptake, storage, and remobilization of nitrogen (N) are of critical importance for plant growth. The use of N reserves for new growth in the spring is especially important for sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.), for which new shoot and fruit growth is concomitant and fruit development occurs during a relatively short bloom-to-ripening period. Sweet cherries grafted on precocious, dwarfing rootstocks such as the interspecific (P. cerasus × P. canescens) hybrids Gisela® 5 and 6 tend to produce large crops but smaller fruit when crop load is not balanced with adequate leaf area. Study objectives were to: 1) characterize natural N remobilization during fall and winter to canopy reproductive and vegetative meristems; 2) determine the effect of fall foliar urea applications on storage N levels in flowering spurs; 3) determine whether differential storage N levels influence spur leaf formation in spring; and 4) determine whether fall foliar urea applications affect the development of cold-hardiness. During fall, total N in leaves decreased by up to 51% [dry weight (DW)] and increased in canopy organs such as flower spurs by up to 27% (DW). The N concentration in flower spurs increased further in spring by up to 150% (DW). Fall foliar applications of urea increased storage N levels in flowering spurs (up to 40%), shoot tips (up to 20%), and bark (up to 29%). Premature defoliation decreased storage N in these tissues by up to 30%. Spur leaf size in the spring was associated with storage N levels; fall foliar urea treatments increased spur leaf area by up to 24%. Foliar urea applications increased flower spur N levels most when applied in late summer to early fall. Such applications also affected the development of cold acclimation in cherry shoots positively during fall; those treated with urea were up to 4.25 °C more cold-hardy than those on untreated trees.

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Five-year-old `Sharpblue' southern highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum) plants were self- and cross-pollinated (`O'Neal') to study peroxidase activities and isozyme patterns during fruit development. Both soluble and bound peroxidase activities were present throughout development. Activities were very high during early fruit development, with peaks at 10 and 20 days after self- and cross-pollination, respectively. Activity was much higher for cross-pollinations. During rapid fruit development, peroxidase activities were low. During ripening, the activity of soluble peroxidases increased, then declined in both treatments. Bound peroxidase activity increased during the color transition from blue to dark blue, with the increase being much greater in self-pollinated fruits. Banding patterns of both soluble and bound isoperoxidases varied by pollination treatment as well as fruit developmental stage. Pollen sources alter peroxidase isozymes and activities in developing fruits. During fruit ripening, soluble peroxidase activity appears to be associate with the color transition from light blue to blue, while bound peroxidase activity appears to be associated with the color transition from blue to dark blue.

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To study the effects of pollen sources on ovule and berry development in southern highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum hybrids), 5-year-old `Sharpblue' plants were moved into a greenhouse for self- and cross-pollination experiments. Cross-pollination with `Gulfcoast' and `O'Neal' as pollen sources increased fruit weight by 58.2% and 54.9%, respectively, compared to self-pollination. Cross-pollination did not affect the number of total and small ovules significantly but did double the number of fully developed ovules and increase the average ovule size by 14%. The increase in number and size of fully developed ovules correlated with the significant difference in berry fresh weight between self- and cross-pollination. Cross- and self-pollination showed good correlations between fruit fresh weight and number or cross-sectional area of fully developed ovules. There was a poor correlation between fruit fresh weight and the number or cross-sectional area of partially developed ovules. This study provides further evidence that berry size in southern highbush is influenced strongly by the development of fully developed ovules.

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