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Dale E. Kester, K.H Shackel, T.M. Gradziel, M. Viveros, and W.C. Micke

The potential for noninfectious bud-failure in propagation source material for `Carmel' almond in California has been determined in progeny tests from commercial nursery sources. Percentage BF increased with time (temporal), but decreased in severity (spatial). Analysis of variability in nursery sources showed that the key to successful selection for low BF potential is the individual tree, although variability exists among nurseries, budsticks (within trees), and individual buds (within budsticks). One-half of the individual trees of the nursery population tested have produced BF progeny so far within the test period. Future BF from the remainder was project by a BF model to be beyond the critical economic threshold. Two low BF-potential single tree sources were identified for commercial usage and progeny tests have started on an additional 19.

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Kenneth A. Shackel, H. Ahmadi, W. Biasi, R. Buchner, D. Goldhamer, S. Gurusinghe, J. Hasey, D. Kester, B. Krueger, B. Lampinen, G. McGourty, W. Micke, E. Mitcham, B. Olson, K. Pelletrau, H. Philips, D. Ramos, L. Schwankl, S. Sibbett, R. Snyder, S. Southwick, M. Stevenson, M. Thorpe, S. Weinbaum, and J. Yeager

To be useful for indicating plant water needs, any measure of plant stress should be closely related to some of the known short- and medium-term plant stress responses, such as stomatal closure and reduced rates of expansive growth. Midday stem water potential has proven to be a useful index of stress in a number of fruit tree species. Day-to-day fluctuations in stem water potential under well-irrigated conditions are well correlated with midday vapor-pressure deficit, and, hence, a nonstressed baseline can be predicted. Measuring stem water potential helped explain the results of a 3-year deficit irrigation study in mature prunes, which showed that deficit irrigation could have either positive or negative impacts on tree productivity, depending on soil conditions. Mild to moderate water stress was economically beneficial. In almond, stem water potential was closely related to overall tree growth as measured by increases in trunk cross-sectional area. In cherry, stem water potential was correlated with leaf stomatal conductance and rates of shoot growth, with shoot growth essentially stopping once stem water potential dropped to between −1.5 to −1.7 MPa. In pear, fruit size and other fruit quality attributes (soluble solids, color) were all closely associated with stem water potential. In many of these field studies, systematic tree-to-tree differences in water status were large enough to obscure irrigation treatment effects. Hence, in the absence of a plant-based measure of water stress, it may be difficult to determine whether the lack of an irrigation treatment effect indicates the lack of a physiological response to plant water status, or rather is due to treatment ineffectiveness in influencing plant water status. These data indicate that stem water potential can be used to quantify stress reliably and guide irrigation decisions on a site-specific basis.