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Michael L. Parker, Dave Ritchie, and Andy Nyczepir

A study was initiated in 1994 to evaluate the performance of the recently released peach rootstock Guardian TM (BY-5209-9), compared to Lovell, the commercial standard in North Carolina. `Redhaven' was the scion for both rootstocks. Guardian&™ is reported to be tolerant to root-knot nematodes and not affected by ring nematodes, which contribute to the incidence of peach tree short life (PTSL). The site of this study has a history of poor peach tree survival. Six-year-old trees were removed because of tree mortality from PTSL in Spring 1993. After tree removal, one-half of each existing row was pre-plant fumigated and trees were replanted over the rows of the previous orchard in Feb. 1994. In Spring 1996, tree mortality for the trees planted on Lovell was 30%, compared to 10% for the trees planted on GuardianTM. Trunk cross-sectional area for trees grown in the fumigated soil was approximately double that of trees grown in the unfumigated soil for both GuardianTM and Lovell. The 1996 fruit crop was eliminated from frost/freeze conditions and 1997 yields will be discussed. In Fall 1996, one-half of the trees were treated with a post-plant nematicide to determine if such treatments are necessary or beneficial with the GuardianTM rootstock.

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Robert C. Ebel, Bryan Wilkins, David Himelrick, Tom Beckman, Andy Nyczepir, and Jim Pitts

Twelve peach rootstocks including `Lovell', `Nemaguard', `Flordaguard', `14DR51', five `Guardian' (BY520-9) selections, and three BY520-8 selections, were evaluated under field conditions to determine their effect on performance of `Cresthaven' peach. The trees were planted in 1994. Trunk cross-sectional area of BY520-8 selections SL1923 and SL4028 was 28% larger than the rest of the rootstocks, which were similar. There was no crop in 1996 due to late spring frost. Yield in 1997 and 1998 was higher for SL1923 because of higher cropload than the rest of the rootstocks, which were similar. Yield efficiency varied across years and rootstocks. Fruit weight varied among rootstocks but all were commercially acceptable. Harvest date was advanced by two days for some rootstocks compared to Lovell and none were delayed. Percent red blush, soluble solids and firmness varied among rootstocks, but none demonstrated superior quality in all of these parameters as compared to Lovell. Ring nematode population densities were above the threshhold considered to be critical for onset of PTSL for all rootstocks in 1997 and 1998. Tree survival was at or above 86% for all rootstocks and death was not correlated with ring nematode density No trees developed symptoms characteristic of Peach Tree Short Life disease complex. Guardian selections performed adequately compared to the commonly used commercial rootstocks in this study, however, the yield date are from 2 years only.