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  • Author or Editor: Greg T. Browne x
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One hundred-eighty six strawberry genotypes from the Univ. of California strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) breeding program were evaluated for resistance to Phytophthora cactorum Schroet. in trials conducted over 6 years; 60 of these genotypes were tested in 2 years or more. Mother plants of each genotype were grown in a propagation nursery beginning in June, and runner plants were set into soil infested with inoculum from a mix of four P. cactorum isolates in August or September of the same year. Runner plants of each genotype were harvested from the inoculated nursery, transferred to a fruiting field location, and evaluated for disease symptoms during the winter and spring following inoculation using a disease severity score. Significant variation for the disease severity score was detected due to years, genotypes, and their interaction. Differences among genotypes were responsible for 60.6% of the phenotypic variance, whereas years and year × genotype interactions contributed relatively little to this variance, 8.2% and 9.3%, respectively. A separate analysis conducted using a balanced subset of six cultivars that were present in all trial years detected variance components due to years and year × genotype interaction slightly smaller than those estimated for the complete trial, 5.0% and 3.9%, respectively. These results highlight the utility of the screening system and suggest that stable resistance to P. cactorum is obtainable in California strawberry breeding populations and production systems.

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The most common rootstock for Juglans regia (Persian or “English” walnut) in California is Paradox, typically a hybrid of J. hindsii (Northern California black walnut) × J. regia. Unfortunately, Paradox is very susceptible to Armillaria root disease. The relative resistance to Armillaria mellea of six clonally propagated Paradox rootstocks (AX1, Px1, RR4 11A, RX1, Vlach, VX211) was evaluated and compared with that of clonally propagated J. hindsii rootstock selection W17, J. regia scion cultivar Chandler, and Pterocarya stenoptera (Chinese wingnut). In a growth-chamber assay, plants were micropropagated and rooted in vitro before inoculating the culture medium with A. mellea. At two months post-inoculation, the most resistant and susceptible Paradox rootstocks were AX1 and VX211, respectively, with 9% vs. 70% mortality, and this finding was consistent across three isolates of A. mellea and three replicate experiments. This broad range of resistance within Paradox is consistent with past field trials that tested other genotypes. Our finding of similarly high susceptibility of ‘Chandler’ and W17 (61% vs. 69% mortality) is in contrast to two field trials, in which other J. regia genotypes were more susceptible than those of J. hindsii. A third trial, however, identified some J. regia genotypes as more resistant than those of J. hindsii. Therefore, it is possible that W17, which was not previously tested, is an Armillaria-susceptible genotype of J. hindsii. Based on our findings of repeatable mortality levels across three isolates of A. mellea and three replicate experiments, the growth-chamber assay has promise, albeit with confirmed resistant and susceptible controls, for identifying putative resistant rootstocks (e.g., AX1) in preparation for a field trial with controlled inoculations.

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Seedlings from seven open-pollinated selections of Chinese wingnut (Pterocarya stenoptera) (WN) representing collections of the USDA-ARS National Clonal Germplasm Repository at Davis, CA, and the University of California at Davis were evaluated as rootstocks for resistance to Phytophthora cinnamomi and P. citricola and graft compatibility with scions of five cultivars of Persian walnut (Juglans regia). Seedlings of Northern California black walnut (NCB) (J. hindsii) and Paradox hybrid (PH) (typically J. hindsii × J. regia) were used as standards. In greenhouse experiments, potted plants of the rootstocks were subjected to intermittent flooding in soil artificially infested with the pathogens. All WN seedlings were relatively resistant to the pathogens (means of 0% to 36% of root and crown length rotted) compared with NCB (44% to 100%) and PH seedlings (11% to 100%). Negligible disease occurred in flooded control soil without the pathogens. In 9-year graft compatibility trials in an orchard, NCB and PH rootstocks supported relatively good survival and growth of all tested scion cultivars (‘Chandler’, ‘Hartley’, ‘Serr’, ‘Tulare’, and ‘Vina’; final scion survival 80% to 100%, mean scion circumference increase 292 to 541 mm), whereas results with WN were mixed. Wingnut rootstocks from all sources were incompatible with ‘Chandler’ (final scion survival 20% to 60%, scion circumference increase 17 to 168 mm). Conversely, all WN rootstocks from all sources were compatible with ‘Tulare’ and ‘Vina’ (final scion survival 80% to 100%, scion circumference increase 274 to 556 mm). Use of the WN rootstocks produced variable results in ‘Hartley’ and ‘Serr’ (final scion survival 10% to 100%, mean scion circumference increase 69 to 542 mm). There was a tendency for more rootstock sprouts on WN selections than on NCB or PH. In a commercial walnut orchard infested with P. cinnamomi, ‘Hartley’ survived and grew markedly better on WN selections than on PH. High resistance to P. cinnamomi and P. citricola was common to all of the WN selections. The results indicate that WN selections may be useful rootstocks for cultivars Tulare and Vina in soils infested with P. cinnamomi or P. citricola and that WN selections may contribute valuable resistance to these pathogens in walnut rootstock breeding efforts.

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Young almond (Prunus amygdalus) orchards replanted where old orchards of stone fruits (Prunus sp.) have been removed are subject to physical, chemical, and biotic stressors. Among biotic challenges, for example, is almond/stone fruit replant disease (ARD; formally known as Prunus replant disease), which specifically suppresses the growth and yields of successive almond and other stone fruit plantings and is caused, in part, by a soil microbial complex. During four orchard trials representing different almond replant practices and scenarios in the San Joaquin Valley in California, we examined the impacts of phosphorus (P) fertilization on the growth of replanted almond. During all trials, P was applied to tree root zones just after replanting, and the impact was assessed according to trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA) growth for 2 years. Expt. 1 was performed where a previous almond orchard was cleared using whole orchard recycling (i.e., the old orchard was “chipped” and then turned into the soil). The land was replanted without preplant soil fumigation. We tested separate fertilizer treatments based on various P, nitrogen, micronutrient, and “complete” formulations. Expt. 2 was also performed where an old almond orchard was recycled, but the soil was preplant-fumigated before replanting. Here, we tested only P fertilization. Expts. 3 and 4 were conducted where an old peach (Prunus persica) orchard was removed. Here, P and nitrogen fertilizer treatments were tested among additional factors, including preplant soil fumigation (Expts. 3, 4) and whole orchard recycling chips (Expt. 4). During all four trials, P fertilization (P at 2.2 to 2.6 oz/tree within a few weeks after planting) significantly increased TCSA growth. The growth benefit was nuanced, however, by almond cultivar, date of replanting, rootstock, and other site-specific factors. Although P fertilization did not match the benefit of preplant soil fumigation for the management of ARD, our data indicated that P fertilization can improve the growth of young almond orchards in diverse replant settings with or without preplant soil fumigation and should be considered by California almond producers as a general best management practice.

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