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  • Author or Editor: M.L. Nesbitt x
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R.C. Ebel, B.L. Campbell, M.L. Nesbitt, W.A. Dozier, J.K. Lindsey and B.S. Wilkins

Estimates of long-term freeze-risk aid decisions regarding crop, cultivar, and rootstock selection, cultural management practices that promote cold hardiness, and methods of freeze protection. Citrus cold hardiness is mostly a function of air temperature, but historical weather records typically contain only daily maximum (Tmax) and minimum (Tmin) air temperatures. A mathematical model was developed that used Tmax and Tmin to estimate air temperature every hour during the diurnal cycle; a cold-hardiness index (CHI500) was calculated by summing the hours ≤10°C for the 500 h before each day; and the CHI500 was regressed against critical temperatures (Tc) that cause injury. The CHI500 was calculated from a weather station located within 0.1 km of an experimental grove and in the middle of the satsuma mandarin (Citrus unshiu Marc.) industry in southern Alabama. Calculation of CHI500 was verified by regressing a predicted CHI500 using Tmax and Tmin, to a measured CHI500 calculated using air temperatures measured every hour for 4 winter seasons (1999-2003). Predicted CHI500 was linearly related to measured CHI500 (r 2 = 0.982). However, the slope was a little low such that trees with a CHI500 = 400, near the maximum cold-hardiness level achieved in this study, had predicted Tc that was 0.5 °C lower than measured Tc. Predicted and measured Tc were similar for nonhardened trees (CHI500 = 0). The ability of predicted Tc to estimate freeze injury was determined in 18 winter seasons where freeze injury was recorded. During injurious freeze events, predicted Tc was higher than Tmin except for a freeze on 8 Mar. 1996. In some freezes where the difference in Tc and Tmin was <0.5 °C there were no visible injury symptoms. Injury by the freeze on 8 Mar. 1996 was due, in part, to abnormally rapid deacclimation because of defoliation by an earlier freeze on 4-6 Feb. the same year. A freeze rating scale was developed that related the difference in Tc and Tmin to the extent of injury. Severe freezes were characterized by tree death (Tc - Tmin > 3.0 °C), moderate freezes by foliage kill and some stem dieback (1.0 °C ≤ Tc - Tmin ≤ 3.0 °C), and slight freezes by slight to no visible leaf injury (Tc - Tmin < 1.0 °C). The model was applied to Tmax and Tmin recorded daily from 1948 through 2004 to estimate long-term freeze-risk for economically damaging freezes (severe and moderate freeze ratings). Economically damaging freezes occurred 1 out of 4 years in the 56-year study, although 8 of the 14 freeze years occurred in two clusters, the first 5 years in the 1960s and 1980s. Potential modification of freeze-risk using within-tree microsprinkler irrigation and more cold-hardy cultivars was discussed.

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T.E. Thompson, W.D. Goff, M.L. Nesbitt, R.E. Worley, R.D. O'Barr and B.W. Wood

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R.C. Ebel, P.A. Carter, W.A. Dozier, D.A. Findley, M.L. Nesbitt, B.R. Hockema and J.L. Sibley

The current study was conducted to relate ice formation to the pattern and rate of leaf and stem injury of Satsuma mandarins on trifoliate orange rootstock. Potted trees were unacclimated, moderately acclimated or fully acclimated by exposing trees to 32/21 °C, 15/7 °C or 10/4 °C, respectively. Freezing treatments consisted of decreasing air temperature at 2 °C·h-1 until ice formed as evidenced by exotherms determined using differential thermal analysis of stems. Air temperature was then decreased, held constant, or increased and held constant to simulate severe, moderate and mild freeze conditions, respectively. All treatment exhibited exotherms at -2 to -4 °C, which were smaller with milder freezing treatments. Only the fully acclimated trees exhibited multiple exotherms. Leaf watersoaking, an indication of ice formation, occurred concurrently with stem exotherms except for fully acclimated trees where there was up to a 30-min delay and which corresponded with the second exotherm. Electrolyte leakage of leaves began to increase near the peak of the stem exotherm, but increased more slowly with milder freezing temperature treatments. In some treatments, electrolyte leakage reached a plateau near 50% but leaves survived. Leaves died when whole-leaf electrolyte leakage exceeded 50%. These data are discussed within the framework of a proposed mechanism of injury of Satsuma mandarin leaves by subfreezing temperatures, especially multiple exotherms of fully acclimated trees, and the plateau of electrolyte leakage of leaves at the critical level for survival.

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R.C. Ebel, W.A. Dozier Jr., M.L. Nesbitt, N.R. McDaniel, A.A. Powell, A. W. Caylor and W.R. Okie

There are a limited number of peach and nectarine cultivars available with chilling requirements that perform well in the Gulf Coast area of Alabama. A test planting of 40 peach and 13 nectarine cultivars was established in 1985 at the Gulf Coast Substation at Fairhope, Ala. The plot was prepared and trees grown according to commercial procedures. Blocks of four trees of each cultivar were planted on a 6 x 6-m spacing. Chill hours were calculated each year based on number of hours at or below 7.3 °C; starting from and including the first 10 consecutive days a total of 50 hours were accumulated to 15 Feb. Data collected included date of full bloom, first harvest date, and total yield. Fruit were measured or rated for skin color, attractiveness, firmness, stone freeness, pubescence, flesh color, dessert quality, shape, weight, percentage with split pits, and occurrence of malformed sutures and extended tips. All cultivars were evaluated for 9 years (1987–95). The best performing varieties are discussed.