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Kitren Glozer and Joseph A. Grant

While rest-breaking agents have become commonly used in California cherry production, application timing continues to involve a certain amount of uncertainty from year to year. In order to use any chilling model adequately and thereby schedule rest-breaking treatments, both the beginning point of dormancy and the beginning point of chill accumulation must be understood. One method of testing dormancy onset is tree defoliation, which may be used to alter the pattern of budbreak and regrowth in spring. Defoliation is used in many tropical and subtropical fruit-growing regions to promote budbreak and flowering in species that are not adapted to less than adequate chilling conditions. Recent trials in California compared hand defoliation to applications of urea and zinc sulfate to determine effects on budbreak and flowering of sweet cherry, as well as to better identify entry into dormancy. Chemical applications were at concentrations lower than those used to effect complete defoliation. We found that chemical applications tended to advance bloom and that the most effective timings were consistent, based on chill portion accumulation and the Dynamic Model. In one of two years, chemical treatments tended to decrease floral bud death and increase fruit set when compared to hand defoliation and untreated trees.

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Warren C. Micke, Joseph A. Grant, and James T. Yeager

`Gala', the third most widely planted apple cultivar in California, requires early and precise thinning to produce good fruit size. Thus, chemical thinning would be ideally suited for this cultivar. However, the normally prolonged bloom for apples in California makes timing of chemical thinning applications difficult. In 1995 and 1996 trials, several chemical thinning treatments provided significantly reduced fruit set on `Gala' compared to the untreated control. Three treatments showed promise for commercial use: 1) carbaryl, two applications at petal fall and again at 10-15 mm diameter of the king fruit; 2) carbaryl plus NAD at petal fall; and 3) carbaryl plus 6-benzyladenine and GA4+7 (Accel®), two applications at petal fall and at ≈10 mm diameter of the king fruit. These treatments generally gave reduced fruit set per 100 flower clusters, fruit set per fruiting cluster and/or numbers of fruit removed by follow-up hand-thinning. None of these treatments showed evidence of phytotoxicity, and some increased fruit size over the untreated control.

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Kitren Glozer, Joseph A. Grant, and William W. Coates

Moderate California winters often result in delayed, erratic or extended bloom, inadequate overlap with pollenizers, poor leafing-out, low fruit set, and irregular fruit maturity. In recent years, use of rest-breaking agents has become commonplace in California sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) culture, mainly to promote earlier bloom and fruit maturity, but also to promote uniform flowering and overcome lack of marginal chilling. Variable responses by different cultivars and in different seasons may be due to different chilling requirements, despite little variation in genetic background for chill requirement in California's commercial cultivars. Other sources of variation include the activity of the rest-breaking agent used, concentration and carrier volume. A minimum amount of effective chill appears to be required for a given cultivar before rest-breaking agents can be effectively applied. This threshold, as exhibited by degree of response to treatment, can be an important indicator of when to spray. Method of measuring chill accumulation, and thus, timing of applications, varies by region and historic acceptance. California's tree fruit industry typically uses the 45 °F “chill hour” model. The Utah Chill Unit Model and the Modified 45 °F Chill Hours Model had not been thoroughly tested under California conditions nor with the rest-breaking chemicals that are in use today in California. We tested our research results against these models and the Dynamic Model developed in Israel and concluded that the Dynamic Model provided the best explanation of responses in our experimental trials. We have been developing recommendations for application of rest-breaking chemicals based on Dynamic Model chill portion accumulation.

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Greg T. Browne, Joseph A. Grant, Leigh S. Schmidt, Charles A. Leslie, and Gale H. McGranahan

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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Warren C. Micke, Joseph A. Grant, Maxwell V. Norton, and James T. Yeager

Under California conditions `Granny Smith' apple does not “self-thin” sufficiently to promote good return bloom nor to provide fruit size desired for the fresh market. Preliminary studies conducted during 1985-87 indicated that 1-naphthyl N-methylcarbamate (carbaryl), 1-naphthaleneacetic Acid (NAA), and 1-naphthaleneacetamide (NAD) could be useful for thinning `Granny Smith'. Detailed studies conducted in 1988 and 89 using dilute handgun applications demonstrated that all 3 materials provided reasonable thinning as shown by fruit set counts. NAA and NAD tended to slow fruit growth as compared to carbaryl. Carbaryl tended to uniformly thin clusters while NAA and NAD were more likely to remove all the fruit from some clusters and few fruit from others, especially in 1988. Compared to the control, all materials applied in 1988 improved return bloom in 1989 with carbaryl having a slightly greater effect than NAA and NAD. As a result of these studies carbaryl at 1.7 to 2.2 kg (active ingredient) per ha as a dilute application is being suggested for grower trials in California.

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Warren C. Micke, Joseph A. Grant, Maxwell V. Norton, and James T. Yeager

Under California conditions `Granny Smith' apple does not “self-thin” sufficiently to promote good return bloom nor to provide fruit size desired for the fresh market. Preliminary studies conducted during 1985-87 indicated that 1-naphthyl N-methylcarbamate (carbaryl), 1-naphthaleneacetic Acid (NAA), and 1-naphthaleneacetamide (NAD) could be useful for thinning `Granny Smith'. Detailed studies conducted in 1988 and 89 using dilute handgun applications demonstrated that all 3 materials provided reasonable thinning as shown by fruit set counts. NAA and NAD tended to slow fruit growth as compared to carbaryl. Carbaryl tended to uniformly thin clusters while NAA and NAD were more likely to remove all the fruit from some clusters and few fruit from others, especially in 1988. Compared to the control, all materials applied in 1988 improved return bloom in 1989 with carbaryl having a slightly greater effect than NAA and NAD. As a result of these studies carbaryl at 1.7 to 2.2 kg (active ingredient) per ha as a dilute application is being suggested for grower trials in California.

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James F. Thompson, Joseph A. Grant, Eugene M. Kupferman, and Jerry Knutson

Damage (pitting and bruising) to sweet cherries during packing line operations was evaluated in a 3-year study conducted in California, Washington, and Oregon. A large percentage of cherries sampled before packing developed damage symptoms (28% in 1992 and 35% in 1993 and 1994), suggesting that damage is imparted during growing, harvest, or transport to the packing house. Packing line operations caused an average of 39% pitting and 10% bruising. The greatest damage was imparted by cluster cutters (20% pitting) and shower type hydrocoolers (19% pitting). Results from this study demonstrate that packing line damage can be reduced by slowing fruit speed in cluster cutters, operating cluster cutters at high fruit-throughput rates, and reducing water drop height in shower hydrocoolers.

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Gregory T. Browne, Charles A. Leslie, Joseph A. Grant, Ravindra G. Bhat, Leigh S. Schmidt, Wesley P. Hackett, Daniel A. Kluepfel, Reid Robinson, and Gale H. McGranahan

Species of Phytophthora are serious soilborne pathogens of persian (english) walnut, causing crown and root rot and associated production losses worldwide. To facilitate the development of improved walnut rootstocks, we examined resistance of 48 diverse clones and seedlings of Juglans species to P. cinnamomi and P. citricola. Plants were micropropagated, acclimatized to a greenhouse environment, and then exposed to the pathogens in artificially infested potting soil mix. Inoculated plants, as well as noninoculated controls, were subjected to soil flooding for 48 hours every 2 weeks to facilitate infection by the pathogens. Two to 3 months after inoculation, resistance to the pathogens was assessed according to the severity of crown and root rot. Clonal hybrids of J. californica × J. regia were highly susceptible to the pathogens (means 52% to 76% root crown length rotted), while several clones of J. microcarpa × J. regia were significantly less susceptible (means 8% to 79% crown length rotted). Among clones of other parentages tested, including: J. microcarpa, (J. californica × J. nigra) × J. regia, J. hindsii × J. regia, (J. hindsii × J. regia) × J. regia, [(J. major × J. hindsii) × J. nigra] × J. regia, and J. nigra × J. regia, responses varied, but tended to be intermediate. When ‘Serr’ scions were budded or grafted on J. microcarpa × J. regia clone ‘RX1’ or Paradox (J. hindsii × J. regia) seedling rootstocks in a commercial orchard infested with P. cinnamomi, all trees on ‘RX1’ remained healthy, whereas only 49% of those on Paradox survived. Thus, useful resistance to Phytophthora is available among J. microcarpa × J. regia hybrids and is evident in ‘RX1’ rootstock.