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J. D. Norton

The Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima) has been cultivated in China for more than 1000 years. During this period, indigenous cultivars and traditional cultivation practices have been used. China is the leading producer of Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima) with 37% of the world' s production. In the last 4 years, improved cultivars and improved cultural practices have resulted in marked increases in production.

The leading provinces in Chestnut production are Hopei, Hubei, and Shandong. Severe injury, crop losses and tree mortality have resulted from the chestnut gall wasp in China Yields have increased greatly in Hubei province through cooperative breeding and developmental research between the Department of Horticulture Auburn University and the Hubei Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Two resistant seedlings from Auburn University are being utilized to save the chestnut industry in China and possibly worldwide.

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J. D. Norton

The Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima) has been cultivated in China for more than 1000 years. During this period, indigenous cultivars and traditional cultivation practices have been used. China is the leading producer of Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima) with 37% of the world' s production. In the last 4 years, improved cultivars and improved cultural practices have resulted in marked increases in production.

The leading provinces in Chestnut production are Hopei, Hubei, and Shandong. Severe injury, crop losses and tree mortality have resulted from the chestnut gall wasp in China Yields have increased greatly in Hubei province through cooperative breeding and developmental research between the Department of Horticulture Auburn University and the Hubei Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Two resistant seedlings from Auburn University are being utilized to save the chestnut industry in China and possibly worldwide.

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J. D. Norton

Observations made during 3 six week periods of cooperative breeding and development research between the Department of Horticulture, Auburn University and the Hubei Academy of Agricultural Sciences indicates that different valuable germplasm of many fruits are present in China. Such cooperation provides the opportunity for the exchange of enhanced germplasm and cultivars to improve many of the horticulture crops of America and China. Resistance to diseases and insects and tolerance to drought, heat and nutrition stresses are found in the material.

The crops that appear to have the most immediate potential are the citrus with cold hardiness, kiwi of many improved types, pears of many types with fire blight resistance to chestnut blight and chestnut gall wasp, plums and plumcots with resistance to borers and many other crops such as raspberry, hawthorn, thorn pear and wolfberry.

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J. D. Norton

The watermelon has been cultivated in China for more than 1000 years. During most of this period, indigenous cultivars and traditional cultivation practices were used. In the last decade, many improved cultivars have been developed and the use of plastic mulch and other improved cultural practices have been utilized. China has become the largest producer of watermelons with the production area increasing to 1 million hectares and 15 million tons in 1988.

Watermelons are grown in almost all production areas of China. The production areas are: the Northwest inland dry region, the North China plain region, and the Changjiang (Yantzi river) valley rainy region. Severe injury and crop losses occur from Fusarium wilt, (Fusarium oxysporium v. niveum) anthracnose (Colletotrichum laginarium), and gummy stem blight (Didymella bryonaea). Cooperative breeding and developmental work was initiated between the Dept. of Horticulture, Auburn University and the Hubei Academy of Aggricultural Science and the Hubei Agricultural College, Jing Zhou to evaluate cultivar and germplasm and to develop multiple disease resistant melons that produce high yields of excellent quality fruit.

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J.D. Norton and Fenny Dane

The American or Allegeny chinquapin (Castanea pumila) is native to the same area of the United States as the American chestnut (C. dentata) from Florida to Canada and westward to Arkansas. The high-quality nuts are an excellent source of food for wildlife and humans. Resistance to chestnut blight (Cryphnuectria parasitica) was discovered in seedlings in virgin forest at Elgin Air Force Base, Fla., with observations of plants for 35 years. A recurrent selection breeding program was established at Auburn Univ. to improve the blight resistance, precocity, dwarfism, pest resistance, cold hardiness, yield, and quality. A number of seedlings appear to be very promising selections for improvement of the American chinquapin. Since there is little information available regarding hereditability of certain traits in perennial tree species, results of breeding at Auburn Univ. should provide us with guidance for further improvement of the American chinquapin.

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J.D. Norton, Hongwen Huang, and Fenny Dane

The Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima Blume) is a valuable germplasm resource for horticultural traits such as resistance to chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica), excellent quality, wide adaptation, and consistent high yield. The Chinese chestnut breeding program was established at Auburn Univ. in 1933 from nuts directly introduced from China by the USDA. A recurrent selection breeding program with progeny from the 1933, 1953, and 1991 plantings with selection for blight resistance, precocity, nut size, and storage quality, yield, and pest resistance. Cultivars released from the 1933 planting were `Alaling,' `Alamore', and `Black Beauty'. `AU-Cropper', `AU-Leader', and `AU-Homestead' were named from the 1953 planting. Two blight-resistant, precocious seedlings, AU-91-P1-26 and AU-P4-26, appear to be very promising selections for improvement of all Chinese chestnut cultivars for nut size and other selection traits. Since there is little information available regarding heritability of certain traits in perennial tree species, results of 65 years of breeding at Auburn Univ. should provide us with guidance for further improvement of selection traits in chestnut breeding.

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Hongwen Huang, Fenny Dane, and J.D. Norton

The genetic diversity within and between geographic populations of the American chestnut tree was evaluated with allozyme and RAPD markers. Winter dormant or mature shoot buds from American chestnut trees collected in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Connecticut were used for isozyme assays. Genetic diversity statistics calculated for 20 isozyme loci indicated that the highest level of heterozygosity was detected in the Alabama and Connecticut populations, the lowest level in the Great Smoky Mountain populations. RAPD analyses were conducted on American chestnut plant material. The best results were obtained with seed tissue. Seed from New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania populations and buds from Alabama and Georgia populations were evaluated for RAPD markers scattered throughout the chestnut genome.

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G.E. Boyhan, J.D. Norton, and J.A. Pitts

The dwarfing characteristics of St. Julien and Pixy rootstocks, measured by shoot growth, were evident with `AU-Amber' and `AU-Producer' plum (Prunus salicina Lindl.) scions. Dwarfing did not occur with `AU-Rubrum'. Trunk cross-sectional area (TCA) was reduced with `AU-Amber', `AU-Producer', and `AU-Rubrum' scions on St. Julien and Pixy rootstocks. After 3 years, tree survival was 94% for Lovell; 89%, Halford; 57%, Nemaguard; 75%, Nemared; 83%, St. Julien; and 47%, Pixy. Tree survivability was significantly lower on Nemaguard and Pixy rootstocks than on Lovell and Halford. Multiple regression of total shoot growth, TCA, and survivability against foliar nutrient content resulted in the following significant equations: 0.460Mg - 0.210Mn, 0.236B - 0.487Mn, and 0.359N + 0.398Ca - 0.267P - 0.360Fe for each, respectively. Growth, survivability, and foliar nutrient content are significantly affected by rootstock in plum production.

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J.D. Norton, G.E. Boyhan, and J.A. Pitts

The dwarfing characteristics of St. Julien and Pixy rootstocks as measured by shoot growth and trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA) was evident. Tree survival was significantly reduced after 3 years on Nemaguard and Pixy rootstocks. None of the elements measured by foliar nutrient analysis were below the minimum for plums; however, significant multiple regression equations for total shoot growth, TCSA, and survivability were evident with R 2 of ≈0.30 in all three cases.

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J.D. Norton, G.E. Boyhan, and B.R. Abrahams

Disease is a major factor limiting production of watermelons in Alabama. Gummy stem blight, anthracnose, and Fusarium wilt are three of the most serious diseases, causing reduced yields of melons in certain fields in Alabama. Although satisfactory control of gummy stem blight and anthracnose may be accomplished with the proper application of organic fungicides during normal weather conditions, no control measure is effective during periods of high humidity and high rainfall. The discovery that certain plant introductions were resistant to gummy stem blight and race 2 anthracnose led to development of multiple disease resistant breeding lines that produce high yields of excellent quality fruit. This research resulted in the 1991 release of AU-Golden Producer and Au-Sweet Scarlet varieties that are resistant to gummy stem blight, Fusarium wilt, and anthracnose (Colletotrichum laginarium race 2). Both melons are superior to current varieties of their type in yield, quality, and disease resistance.