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  • Author or Editor: R.A. Stern x
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The rate of 'Mauritius' litchi fruit development and abscission was studied over three consecutive seasons. Two pronounced abscission waves were observed. The first started at the end of the female bloom and ended about four weeks later. Female flowers abscised at a rate of 85-90% during this period. Most of the abscised fruitlets were devoid of embryo and/or endo-sperm. After a lull of about a week, the second abscission wave began, lasting about two weeks. Approximately 5% of the female flowers survived this wave, Most of the abscised fruit-lets had embryos. The second wave coincided with the period of rapid replacement of endosperm by embryo. Auxin (2,4,5-TP) was very effective in increasing marketable fruit yield when applied during the lull between the two abscission waves, At that time fruitlets weighed about 2 g. A longitudinal cut revealed an embryo already visible to the naked eye, at the micropylar end of the seed cavity.

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Fruit produced by adjacent blocks of `Mauritius' and `Floridian' lychee (Litchi chinensis Sonn.) were sampled at four different stages of development and the embryos were analyzed for pollen parentage by phosphoglucose isomerase (PGI; EC 5.3.1.9) isozyme system. Hybrid percentage increased significantly from ≈5 weeks after fruit set to maturity as follows: from 29.5% to 76.3% in `Mauritius' and from 74.2% to 92.5% in `Floridian'. These findings clearly indicate selective abscission of selfed fruitlets. In `Mauritius', yield was not related to the distance from the pollenizer block or hybrid percentage. In `Floridian', yield of trees adjacent to the `Mauritius' pollenizer was higher by 36% than that of trees at a distance of 24 m. The correlation between `Flordian' yield and hybrid percentage tended toward significance (r= 0.64, P = 0.08). In addition, in both cultivars, fruit and seed weights were affected by the pollen parent: outcrossed fruit were heavier and contained heavier seeds than selfed ones.

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Fruits produced in two orchards, each consisting of adjacent blocks of `Floridian' and `Mauritius' lychee (Litchi chinensis Sonn.), were unequivocally identified as selfed or outcrossed by phosphoglucose isomerase (PGP; EC 5.3.1.9) isozyme analysis. The average rate of hybrid production in each orchard was 69% and 87% for `Floridian' and 17% and 65% for `Mauritius', respectively. The percentage of hybrids produced on trees adjacent to those of the other cultivar was invariably significantly higher than that produced on the more distant trees. However a significant correlation between hybrid percentage and proximity to the other cultivar, as well as between hybrid percentage and yield, was found only for `Floridian' in one of the orchards. A significant correlation was found between pollen source and the weights of fruits and seeds in both cultivars. Fruits originating from cross-pollination were heavier and contained heavier seeds than selfed fruits. The most pronounced effect of pollen parent on seed weight was found in `Floridian', which appears to exhibit inbreeding depression.

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Fruit development and abscission in `Mauritius' lychee (Litchi chinensis Sonn.) were studied over three consecutive seasons. Each season, two distinct abscission periods were observed. The first started at the end of full female bloom and continued for ≈ 4 weeks. Of the initial number of female flowers, 85 % to 90 % abscised during this period. The second period began after a lag period of≈ 1 week and lasted ≈ 2 weeks. About half of the remaining fruitlets abscised during this wave. AU of these fruitlets contained an embryo. The second wave coincided with a period of rapid embryo growth and endosperm loss. Tipimon (a commercial product containing the triethanolamine salt of the synthetic auxin 2,4,5-TP) consistently and significantly increased marketable fruit yield when applied between the two abscission periods. Chemical name used: 2,4,5 -trichlorophenoxy propionic acid (2,4,5 -TP).

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The effect of fall irrigation level in `Mauritius' and `Floridian' lychee (Litchi chinensis Sonn.) on soil and plant water status, flowering intensity, and yield the following year was studied in a field during 2 consecutive years. At the end of the second vegetative flush after harvest (1 Oct. 1994 and 10 Oct. 1995), four irrigation treatments were initiated: 0.5, 0.25, 0.125, and 0 Class A pan evaporation coefficients designated 100%, 50%, 25%, and 0%. The three lower irrigation levels effectively stopped shoot growth, suggesting the 50% treatment to be the threshold for shoot growth cessation in both years. For both years, flowering intensity and yield in the 100% treatment were lower than those following the other three treatments. Soil and plant water-stress indicators responded to the water-stress irrigation treatments. However soil water-potential values were highly variable relative to plant water potentials. Stem water potential differed more markedly between treatments than leaf water potential. Midday stem water potential appeared to be the best water-stress indicator for irrigation control. Midday stem water potential in both years was correlated with midday vapor-pressure deficit, suggesting that the threshold for irrigation control should take into account evaporative demand.

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The effects of the timing and severity of postharvest water stress on the productivity and fruit quality of field-grown nectarine [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch cv. Snow Queen] were studied for two consecutive years. Three levels of postharvest water status (midday stem water potentials of -1.2, -2.0, and -2.8 MPa) were examined. They were designated as High, Med, and Low, respectively. In the second year two additional treatments were examined in which Low and Med water status were interchanged on 1 Sept. 2002, and these treatments were designated as Low/Med and Med/Low. The percentages of double fruits and of those having a deep suture increased with decreasing postharvest midday stem water potential during the previous year, and most of these defects were stimulated by water deficits that occurred prior to 1 Sept. Postharvest water stress led to decreased crop yield in the subsequent year because there were fewer fruits per tree. Flower buds with double pistils were first noticed in mid-September, and by mid-November the ranking of double pistils in the various treatments were similar to the ranking of double fruits measured a month after bloom in the subsequent season. Postharvest water stress delayed flower bud development. The percentage of double fruits increased from 10% in 2002 to 40% in 2003 and the higher percentage in 2003 was associated with higher air temperatures during the reproductive bud development stage in 2002 than in 2001. Our data and others suggest that high temperatures create a potential for the occurrence of double fruits, but that the fulfillment of that potential is highly dependent on postharvest tree water status. The occurrence of double and deep suture fruits were highly correlated with midday stem water potential in August of the previous year, i.e., during the initial stages of flower bud development. The occurrence of double fruits was observed to increase sharply as the midday stem water potentials fell below -2.0 MPa, which suggests that a midday stem water potential of -2.0 MPa could serve as a threshold for postharvest irrigation scheduling.

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