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David Goldhamer, Mario Viveros, and Ken Shackel

Previously well irrigated mature `Nonpareil' almond trees (Prunus dulcis) were subjected to varying periods of water deprivation prior to harvest and then to either full or no postharvest irrigation. Eight preharvest water deprivation (PWD) lengths ranging from 14 to 63 days were evaluated on a sandy loam soil with a rooting depth of about 1.5 m.

Development of tree water deficits occurred rapidly following PWD. Predawn leaf water potential decreased to about -1.8 and -3.1 MPa after 10 and 20 days, respectively. Defoliation began about 30 days after PWD and trees subjected to more than 50 days completely defoliated. The rate of hull split was directly related to the PWD duration. With early cutoffs, the size of the hull split-arrested nuts at harvest was large compared with the same nut type in later cutoffs suggesting that as nuts develop, large nuts are preferential sinks for assimilates. Kernel size was only mildly reduced by PWD during the first study year. There was a trend toward lower total kernel yield with longer PWD as a result of smaller kernel girth but yield differences were not significant. The number of nuts remaining in the tree after shaking was not related to PWD. Bark strength increased after PWD with 10 to 14 days required to prevent shaker damage. Postharvest irrigation resulted in late season defoliation but no rebloom. Bloom density reductions in 1990 were related more to the lack of 1989 postharvest irrigation than to early PWD.

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Dale E. Kester, Warren C. Micke, and Mario Viveros

`Jeffries', a mutant of `Nonpareil' almond [Prunus dulcis (Mill.) D.A. Webb], showed “unilateral incompatibility” in that its pollen failed to fertilize cultivars in the `Carmel' (CIG-V), `Monterey' (CIG-VI), and `Sonora' (CIG-VII) pollen cross-incompatibility groups (CIGs), as well as specific cultivars (`Butte', `Grace', and `Valenta') whose CIG group is unknown. `Jeffries' is not self-compatible, but produced good set when pollinated by 12 almond cultivars representing the entire range of CIGs involving `Nonpareil' parentage, as well as the parent `Nonpareil'. It was concluded that the `Jeffries' mutant—both gametophyte and sporophyte—expressed a loss of a single S allele of the `Nonpareil' genotype.

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Thomas M. Gradziel, Bruce Lampinen, Joseph H. Connell, and Mario Viveros

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Dale E. Kester, Kenneth A. Shackel, Warren C. Micke, Mario Viveros, and Thomas M. Gradziel

The spatial and temporal pattern of noninfectious bud failure (BF) expression (BFexp) was studied during seven growing seasons in a population of `Carmel' almond trees originating from twelve commercial propagation sources. All progeny trees were grown in a single experimental site with high prevailing summer temperatures. BFexp increased continuously but irregularly in each nursery population as measured as the proportion of trees showing BF and as an average BFexp rating. Populations from the 12 nurseries represented increasing clonal generations from the original seedling tree and showed increasing levels of BF, as well as a decreasing shape value and increasing scale value derived by a failure statistics model. Models for development, distribution and hazard functions were defined for each of the 12 sources studied. Only sources from the original tree and source A demonstrated potential for commercial use. A significant correlation was found between average yearly increase in BFexp and the average daytime temperature for the previous June. The June period coincides with a specific stage in the seasonal growth cycle when vegetative buds mature.

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Bridget M. Lamp, Joseph H. Connell, Roger A. Duncan, Mario Viveros, and Vito S. Polito

Scanning electron microscopy was used to examine almond [Prunus dulcis (Mill.) D.A. Webb (syn. Prunus amygdalus Batsch, Amygdalus communis L.)] flower bud development for three cultivars (Nonpareil, Carmel, and Butte) from four California locations (which span the range of almond production in California) for 2 years, and for `Nonpareil' in a single location for a third year. The objectives were to document timing of floral developmental events and to better understand the extent of variation that exists within and among cultivars, locations, and years. Results indicated that the time of floral initiation relative to hull split varied among cultivars. Median time for floral initiation in `Nonpareil' was more than 3 weeks after the onset of hull split. For `Butte' and `Carmel', median time of floral initiation preceded the onset of hull split. Extensive variation in the timing of bud development events within a cultivar was apparent. Timing of developmental events varied among locations, but no patterns emerged consistent with the north to south range which spanned 4°15' latitude and 520 km. Among years, development occurred earliest in 1997, a relatively warm year, and was delayed in 1998 and 1999, relatively cool years. Results indicate an earlier onset of floral initiation than reported in the classical literature on the subject.