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Hava F. Rapoport and Luis Rallo

Fruit set and enlargement were compared for fertilized and unfertilized olive (Olea europaea L.) ovaries, the latter obtained by flower emasculation and bagging to prevent pollination. In the control population, the timing of abscission coincided with the onset of ovary expansion following fertilization. In the emasculated population, ovary expansion was only slight, and abscission was substantially delayed. Separation of the ovaries by size using graduated screens provided a useful tool for the evaluation of ovary growth.

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Hava F. Rapoport, Giacomo Costagli and Riccardo Gucci

Water deficit was applied between 4 and 9 weeks after full bloom by withholding irrigation from 3-year-old Olea europaea L. (`Leccino') plants grown in 2 L containers in a greenhouse. At 6, 8, and 22 weeks after full bloom (AFB), fruit were sampled for fresh weight and volume determinations, and then fixed for anatomical studies. Structural observations and measurements were performed on transverse sections at the point of widest fruit diameter using image analysis. Water deficit applied between 4 and 9 weeks AFB produced a significant decrease in predawn leaf water potential, which reached minimum values of -3.1 MPa. The applied water deficit reduced fruit fresh weight and volume at 8 and 22 weeks AFB. Fruit transverse area of the water deficit treatment was 50%, 33%, and 70% of the irrigated one at the 6-, 8-, and 22-week sampling dates, respectively. Mesocarp growth occurred for both irrigated and water deficit plants between 8 and 22 weeks AFB. At 22 weeks AFB differences between treatments were significant for mesocarp transverse area, but not for endocarp area. Mesocarp cell size, indicated by area, was significantly different between treatments at 8 and 22 weeks AFB. However, the mesocarp cell number was similar for both treatments at all times, and most mesocarp cells were produced by 6 weeks AFB. The growth of endocarp area showed the greatest shift in timing in response to the early water deficit. Ninety percent of endocarp growth had occurred by 8 weeks AFB in the irrigated treatment, but only 40% when the deficit irrigation treatment was imposed.

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Diego Barranco, Octavio Arquero, Carlos Navarro and Hava F. Rapoport

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Raul De la Rosa, Luis Rallo and Hava F. Rapoport

In the olive (Olea europaea L.), inflorescence and flower differentiation occur in the early spring following a period of winter chilling and dormancy of the potentially reproductive buds. We examined the size, structure, and starch content of these buds during winter rest in the field and during forcing under standard growth-chamber conditions. Basic bud structure and dimensions remained unchanged during the rest period, but starch content increased in the bud's central axis. When cuttings were forced in the growth chamber, the buds followed a morphogenetic pattern similar to that observed in the field, but the sequence of developmental events could be timed more precisely. The first changes observed were the onset of axis growth and the differentiation of axillary primordia within 3 days of transfer to the growth chamber. This was followed by the initiation of new nodes, and, at 15 to 18 days, by the first signs of floral differentiation in the terminal and axillary bud apical meristems. Bud growth and differentiation were accompanied by a decrease in starch content.

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Inmaculada Moreno-Alías, Hava F. Rapoport, Rafael López, Lorenzo León and Raúl de la Rosa

In recent years, the juvenile period of olive seedlings has been reduced by diverse forcing and pruning-formation techniques, but it is still a major drawback for breeding. Plant height at the time when seedlings are transplanted to the field has been found effective for obtaining earlier flowering, but the value of this parameter varies widely among olive breeding programs. We evaluated different transplant dates, taking into account mean plant height and age, with the aim of determining the optimum parameters for achieving early flowering and easy plant management and, at the same time, for the early elimination of genotypes with a long juvenile period. A mean seedling height of ≈100 cm at the time of planting in the field provided the best results in terms of shortening the juvenile period and facilitating handling of the seedlings. For all dates tested, seedling height at transplanting was effective as a pre-selection criterion for the early elimination of genotypes with long juvenile periods, with slight improvement in effectiveness with advancing transplant date.