Trees without excessive branching are desirable for the reduction of pruning costs. Genetic diversity for less twiggy genotypes exists in peach and a branching index was developed for evaluation and selection of genotypes with reduced branching. The index is based on the number of total first-order branches and the number of second-order, third-order, and fourth-order branches measured on three randomly selected first-order branches. Index values were highly correlated (r 2 ≈0.7) with the total number of branches over two growing seasons and served as a good predictor of branching patterns observed in the third growing season. Thus, the developed branching index is a useful tool in peach breeding, allowing for the early selection of trees with more desirable tree architecture.
Omar Carrillo-Mendoza, Wayne B. Sherman and José X. Chaparro
Omar Carrillo-Mendoza, José X. Chaparro and Jeffrey Williamson
Tree size and branching control has gained importance as labor and pruning costs have increased. In addition, the occurrence of blind nodes is a critical factor that affects peach tree architecture and productivity in subtropical climates. Seven backcross families segregating for branching and blind nodes were developed using ‘Flordaguard’ peach × P. kansuensis or ‘Tardy Nonpareil’ almond F1s backcrossed to ‘AP00-30WBS’, ‘UFSharp’, or ‘UF97-47’ peach selections and evaluated for branching index and blind node frequency during the winters of 2010 and 2011. P. kansuensis backcrosses presented increased branching and lower blind node incidence, whereas almond backcrosses presented less branching and higher blind node incidence, resembling the P. kansuensis and almond F1 parents, respectively. There was also broad variability for branching and blind nodes within the P. kansuensis and ‘Tardy Nonpareil’ almond backcross families influenced by the peach parents that were used to generate the backcross populations. The moderate heritability and year-to-year correlation for these traits indicate that they are affected by the environment, but selection for reduced branching and lower blind node incidence is feasible.