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Richard H. Zimmerman

Growth, flowering, and fruiting of micropropagated `Jonathan' apple trees (Malus domestica Borkh.) transferred in Spring 1983 to the field from either a nursery, cold storage, or greenhouse were compared. First-year shoot and trunk growth was greatest for trees transplanted from the nursery and least for trees that were held in the greenhouse before being transferred to the field. Trees pruned low (35 cm) at planting time had more terminal shoot growth and less trunk cross-sectional area after the first growing season than those pruned high (90 cm). The effect of preplanting cultural practices on vegetative growth diminished in the 2nd year and disappeared by the end of the 3rd year in the orchard. Flowering began in 1985 and was only slightly affected by preplanting cultural practices and pruning treatments. Fruiting was not affected by the treatments.

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Richard H. Zimmerman

Micropropagated trees of `Redspur Delicious' apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.), planted as small, actively growing trees in May 1982, lacked uniformity in tree size, appearance, and flowering by the spring of 1986. Only four of the 18 trees had a typical spur-type growth habit; these four trees had 80% more spurs per meter of shoot, 8 to 10 times as many flowers the first year of flowering and 9.5-fold higher early fruit yields, but were 40% smaller after 14 years in the orchard and had 25% less cumulative fruit yield than the nonspur types. Shoots from the spur-type trees were recultured in 1988 and the resulting trees planted in an orchard in 1990. These latter trees were uniform in appearance and all had typical spur-type growth, with about 30% more spurs per meter of shoot growth than the spur-type trees from which they were propagated. Micropropagating spur-type apples from previously micropropagated trees that have maintained clonal fidelity may overcome the potential problem of clonal variation in orchard planted micropropagated trees.

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Richard H. Zimmerman

Highbush blueberry is adapted to well-drained sandy soils containing some organic matter, but these are often unavailable in many areas where blueberry production is desired. I tested the concept of using freely available by-products to produce an artificial medium for growing blueberries. In June 1997, 1-year-old tissue-cultured plants of `Bluecrop' and `Sierra' blueberry were planted into 15-L plastic pots filled with soil or soilless medium in a total of 10 treatments. Soils used were Berryland sand (alone) and Manor clay loam (alone or amended with 25% or 50% compost mix 1); soilless media were composed of coal ash amended with 25% municipal biosolid compost (B), 25% leaf compost (L), 25% or 50% compost mix 1 (1 B: 1 L),\ or 25% or 50% compost mix 2 (1 compost mix 1: 1 acid peatmoss). pH of all mixes containing compost was adjusted to ≈4.5 with sulfur. After the first year, plants of both cultivars in Berryland sand had significantly more shoot growth than in any other treatment except for Manor clay loam. The least growth was produced by plants growing in Manor clay loam amended with compost mix 1 and in coal ash amended with unblended compost (B or L). After the second year, plants in the best treatments were 90 to 100 cm tall. More shoot growth was produced by plants in Berryland sand and in coal ash amended with 25% or 50% of compost mix 1, followed by plants in coal ash amended with 50% compost mix 2 or 25% compost B; plants in Manor clay loam, whether or not amended with compost, had the least growth. In 1998, 95% of the plants flowered and most set fruit, but differences among treatments were not significant. `Sierra' plants produced more growth than those of `Bluecrop' in all treatments.

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Richard H. Zimmerman

Small actively growing micropropagated trees of `Redspur Delicious' apple (Malus xdomestica Borkh.) were planted in an orchard at the end of May 1982. By Spring 1986, a lack of uniformity in tree size, appearance, and flowering was obvious. Only four of the 18 trees had a typical spur-type growth habit. These four trees had significantly more spurs per unit of shoot length, flowered sooner, had higher early fruit yields, and remained significantly smaller after 13 years in the orchard, but had significantly less cumulative yield than the nonspur types. Shoots from the spur-type trees were recultured in 1988 and the resulting trees planted in an orchard in 1990. These latter trees were uniform in appearance and all had typical spur-type growth with ≈30% more spurs per meter of shoot growth than the original trees from which they were propagated.

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Richard L. Bell and Richard H. Zimmerman

Combining ability for transmission of juvenile period duration was studied in a large pear breeding population. The 92 parents, consisting of cultivars and selections of Pyrus communis L. and its interspecific hybrids with P. pyrifolia (Burm.) Nakai and P. ussuriensis Maxim., as well as genotypes of P. calleryana Decne., were crossed in 298 combinations. General combining ability was highly significant and of much larger magnitude than specific combining ability, indicating that juvenile period length was under predominantly additive genetic control. Selection of parents based on their juvenile period or their combining ability constants is likely to result in significant reduction in mean juvenile period.

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Brent L. Black and Richard H. Zimmerman

Bottom ash from a coal-fired power plant and two composts were tested as components of soil-free media and as soil amendments for growing highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.). Combinations of ash and compost were compared to Berryland sand, and Manor clay loam, and compost amended Manor clay loam. The pH of all treatment media was adjusted to 4.5 with sulfur at the beginning of the experiment. In 1997, plants of `Bluecrop' and `Sierra' were planted in 15-dm3 pots containing the pH-adjusted treatment media. The first substantial crop was harvested in 1999. At the end of the 1999 season, one half of the plants were destructively harvested for growth analysis. The remaining plants were cropped again in 2000. Yield and fruit size data were collected in both seasons, and leaf and fruit samples were collected in 1999 for elemental analysis. The presence of coal ash or composted biosolids in the media had no detrimental effect on leaf or fruit elemental content. Total growth and yield of both cultivars was reduced in clay loam soil compared to Berryland sand, whereas growth and yield of plants in coal ash-compost was similar to or exceeded that of plants in Berryland sand.

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Richard H. Zimmerman and Stephen S. Miller

Four apple (Malus domestics Borkh.) cultivars, Northern Spy; Ozark Gold, Stayman, and Rome Beauty, were tissue cultured on their own roots (TC) or were budded on seedling, MM.106, or M.26 rootstock. All four cultivars were planted at Beltsville, Md., and `Ozark Gold' and `Stayman' were planted at Kearneysville, W. Va. TC trees produced more vegetative growth than trees budded on MM.106 and M.26 at both locations, but TC trees differed little in size from those budded on seedling rootstock. Flowering was delayed on TC and seedling rootstock trees relative to those on MM.106 or M.26 rootstock. Fruit yields in general were low but were higher for the trees on clonal rootstock than the TC or seedling rootstock trees, especially at Beltsville. The limited vegetative growth and poor fruit yield of trees on M.26 and MM.106 at Beltsville may have been due to significant infestation by plant parasitic nematodes at this site. TC trees seemed to have been less affected by the nematodes, probably because of their greater vigor and more extensive root systems. All trees at Kearneysville were more vigorous than comparable ones at Beltsville.

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Brent L. Black and Richard H. Zimmerman

Highbush blueberry plants require low-pH, well-drained sandy soils. To increase the range of sites available for highbush blueberry production, by-products were tested as constituents in soilless media and as soil amendments. By-products, including coal ash, municipal biosolid compost, leaf compost, and acid peat, were combined in different proportions and compared to Berryland sand (alone) and Manor clay loam (alone and compost-amended) for a total of 10 media treatments. The pH of all treatment media was adjusted to 4.5 with sulfur. One-year-old tissue-cultured plants of `Bluecrop' and `Sierra' were planted in 15-L pots containing the pH-adjusted treatment media in 1997, producing their first substantial crop in 1999. For the 1999 crop, ripe fruit was harvested at weekly intervals over 5 weeks. ANOVA for yield indicated a significant cultivar × media interaction. `Bluecrop' appeared more sensitive to media treatment as yields on Manor clay loam were 80% less than on Berryland sand. Yields of `Bluecrop' on coal ash-compost mixes were similar to that of Berryland sand, and 1:1 coal ash:compost mixes produced significantly higher yields than did the 3:1 mixes. Yield of `Sierra' on Manor clay loam was 41% less than on Berryland sand, and plants growing on soilless mixes yielded 17% to 58% more than those on Berryland sand. `Bluecrop' fruit size was greatest for Berryland sand, but did not differ significantly among coal ash-compost mixes. For all media treatments, `Sierra' fruit size was inversely correlated with yield. Fruit from `Bluecrop' plants on coal ash-compost mixes ripened slightly earlier than on Berryland sand, but ripening date of `Sierra' did not vary significantly with soil treatment. The potential for employing these by-product mixes in small-scale commercial blueberry production will be discussed.

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Richard H. Zimmerman and George L. Steffens

Tissue-culture (TC)-propagated `Gala' and Triple Red `Delicious' apple trees grown at three planting densities were not treated (CON) or treated with plant growth regulators (PGRs) starting the third or fourth season to control tree size and maximize fruiting. `Gala' and `Delicious' trees budded on M.7a rootstock (BUD) were also included as controls. `Gala' trees were larger than `Delicious' after the first three growing seasons but `Delicious' were larger than `Gala' at the end of 9 years. BUD trees were larger than CON trees the first few seasons hut final trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA) of CON trees averaged 43% greater than BUD trees. Paclobutrazol and uniconazole treatments more readily controlled the growth of `Gala' than `Delicious' and uniconazole was more effective than paclobutrazol in controlling tree size. Daminozide + ethephon sprays (D+E-S) did not influence tree size. Tree size of both cultivars was inversely related to planting density and both triazole PGRs were more effective in controlling tree size as planting density increased. The trees had fewer flowers as planting density increased and BUD trees generally had more Bowers than CON. Triazole PGRs had little effect on the flowering pattern of `Gala' trees but tended to stimulate flowering of young `Delicious' TC trees, although the increases were not sustained. The D+E-S treatment increased flowering of `Gala' trees the last 3 years of the experiment and consistently increased flowering of `Delicious' TC trees. Fruit yields were higher for young `Gala' compared to `Delicious' trees and the final cumulative yield per tree for `Gala' was also greater. Yield per tree decreased as tree density increased and was the same for BUD and CON trees. D+E-S increased cumulative per tree yield of `Delicious' but not of `Gala'. Cumulative yields per tree for triazole-treated TC trees were the same as, or significantly lower than, CON trees. Increasing tree density did not increase yield/ha. Yield efficiency of `Gala' trees was increased by three, and of `Delicious' trees by one, of the triazole treatments, because they reduced TCSA proportionally more than they reduced per tree yield. There was less bienniality with `Gala' than `Delicious' and no difference between BUD and CON trees. Bienniality indices were higher for paclobutrazol-treated `Gala' trees compared with CON `Gala' but only uniconazole applied as a trunk paint increased the bienniality index of `Delicious' trees. Chemical names used: succinic acid-2,2-dimethyl hydrazide (daminozide), (2-chloroethyl) phosphonic acid (ethephon), (2RS,3RS)-1-(4-chlorophenyl)-4,4-dimethyl-2-(1,2,4-triazol-1-yl)pentan-3-01 (paclobutrazol), (E)-(l-chlorophenyl)-4,4-dimethyl-2-(I,2,4-triazol-l-yl)-1-penten-3-ol (uniconazole).

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Christopher S. Walsh, Arthur H. Thompson, and Richard H. Zimmerman

`Gala' apples are increasing in worldwide popularity. Despite this, little information on the cultivars vigor, precocity, or interaction with size-controlling rootstock is available. In 1985, a factorial planting was set to study these variables. `Gala' and `Golden Delicious' trees were found similar in precocity. Cumulative yields were about 20 kg per tree after the fifth leaf. `McIntosh' and `Delicious' trees were less precocious. `Gala' trees were also quite vigorous. Tree size and yield efficiency data will be presented, comparing `Gala' with other cultivars budded onto M 7a, MM 111, or propagated in tissue culture as scion-rooted plants. Tree management techniques have been identified that decrease fruit size. Trees budded onto precocious rootstock, and fruited heavily on one-year wood produce small-sized fruit. This tendency is pronounced on trees fruiting in the second leaf, or on older trees damaged by late-spring freezes that reduce the proportion of crop borne on spurs.