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Ricardo Goenaga, David Jenkins and Angel Marrero

The globalization of the economy, increased ethnic diversity, and a greater demand for healthy and more diverse food production has increased the demand for tropical fruits. There is a lack of formal experimentation to determine yield performance and fruit quality traits of lychee (Litchi chinensis) cultivars. Six lychee cultivars (Bosworth-3, Brewster, Groff, Mauritius, Kaimana, Salathiel) grown on Mollisol and Inceptisol soils were evaluated for 8 years at the Adjuntas Agricultural Experiment Station of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR-Adjuntas) and La Balear farm, Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, respectively. At UPR-Adjuntas and La Balear, cultivar Groff had a significantly higher production (257,296 fruit/ha) of total fruit than other cultivars, whereas Salathiel had the lowest. However, total fruit production of ‘Groff’ was not significantly different from ‘Kaimana’ and ‘Bosworth-3’at La Balear. At UPR-Adjuntas, cultivars Groff and Bosworth-3 had significantly higher number of marketable fruit than the rest of the cultivars averaging 171,760 fruit/ha. At La Balear, ‘Kaimana’ had a higher number of marketable fruit, but it was not significantly different from ‘Groff’, ‘Bosworth-3’, and ‘Mauritius’, averaging 291,360 fruit/ha. At both sites, individual fruit weight of marketable fruit was higher in ‘Kaimana’ than the rest of the cultivars. However, at La Balear, there were no significant differences between ‘Kaimana’ and ‘Mauritius’. At both locations, cultivars exhibited erratic production patterns, which were characterized by lower production during 1 or 2 successive years following heavy cropping. At current farm gate prices and fruit yield reported in this study, cultivars Groff, Bosworth-3, and Kaimana can generate a good income for growers, and allow them to diversify crops as part of their farm operations.

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Ricardo Goenaga, Heber Irizarry, David Jenkins, Debbie Boykin and Angel Marrero

Research on sapodilla (Manilkara zapota) has been very limited. A field study was conducted to determine the yield potential, fruit quality traits, leaf nutrient composition, and scion/rootstock compatibility of ‘Prolific’ sapodilla grafted onto 16 sapodilla rootstock seedlings. For this purpose, seedlings (maternal half-sibs) of cultivars Adelaide, Arcilago, Aruz, Blackwood, Blocksberg, Guilbe, Hanna, Jamaica-1, Larsen, Mendigo-1, Gallera, Morning Star, Russel, Prolific, Timothe, and Vasallo-1 were used as rootstock seedlings and evaluated during 7 years of production at Isabela, PR. Year showed a significant effect on the number of fruit per hectare, yield, individual fruit weight, fruit length and diameter, and total soluble solids. Rootstock seedlings had a significant effect on the number of fruit per hectare, yield, and individual fruit weight but had no effect on other fruit traits. The year × rootstock interaction was not significant for any of the variables measured in the study. Rootstock seedlings ‘Timothe’, ‘Vasallo-1’, ‘Larsen’, and ‘Aruz’ had the highest 7-year mean for number and the yield of fruit averaging 4479 fruit/ha and 1245 kg·ha−1, respectively. ‘Timothe’ and ‘Vasallo-1’ significantly out yielded the ‘Prolific’ rootstock seedling. The number of fruit per hectare and corresponding yield obtained in this study were very low probably as the result of wind exposure, the presence of the fungus Pestalotia causing floral necrosis, or both. Scion/rootstock incompatibility was not the cause of the low yield performance of grafted trees. The average individual weight of fruit was 282 g and ranged from 264 to 303 g. Averaged over rootstock seedlings, leaf tissue nutrient concentration did not vary greatly over time. Moreover, tissue nutrient concentration was similar before and after fertilization events.

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Ricardo Goenaga, Brian Irish and Angel Marrero

Plantain (Musa balbisiana AAB) is a tropical rhizomatous perennial plant in the genus Musa spp., closely related to banana (Musa acuminata AAA). It is an important cash crop and staple for inhabitants in many parts of the world, including various ethnic groups in the United States. Black leaf streak disease (BLSD) or black sigatoka, caused by Pseudocercospora fijiensis (formerly Mycosphaerella fijiensis), is responsible for significant losses of this crop due to the high susceptibility of the most economically important cultivars. BLSD does not immediately kill plantain plants, but it causes severe leaf necrosis, which results in reduced photosynthetic area, thereby adversely impacting bunch weight and fruit production. Without cultural and chemical control, yields can be reduced by 20% to 80%, depending on severity. This study evaluated a BLSD-resistant cultivar, FHIA-21, against Maricongo, a standard commercial cultivar with no BLSD tolerance, at two locations in Puerto Rico on Ultisol (Corozal site) and Oxisol (Isabela site) soils. Total number of fruit and bunch yield were significantly higher at Isabela, with BLSD severity being significantly lower at this location. Average fruit production of ‘FHIA-21’ was significantly higher than that of ‘Maricongo’ at both locations, with fruit yields of 122,522 and 99,948 fruit/ha at Isabela and Corozal, respectively. Overall, fruit of ‘FHIA-21’ were significantly longer and had greater diameters than those of ‘Maricongo’. At Isabela, the mean bunch fruit weight was significantly higher for ‘FHIA-21’, but both cultivars exceeded the minimum local marketable fruit weight criterion of 270 g. At both locations, the numbers of functional leaves present at flowering and at harvest were significantly higher for ‘FHIA-21’ than for ‘Maricongo’, indicating more availability of photosynthetic area for ‘FHIA-21’ during the fruit-filling period. There were no significant differences between cultivars regarding the concentration of starch and soluble sugars for green fruit. Regarding ripe fruit, ‘FHIA-21’ had a significantly higher concentration of soluble sugars and less starch. In this study, ‘FHIA-21’ had good resistance against BLSD and, if accepted by consumers, is a viable alternative to current commercial cultivars. We also conclude from this study that the expression of the Banana streak virus (BSV) in planting material of this cultivar remains an unknown threat in yield decline of ‘FHIA-21’.