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  • Author or Editor: Robert Beede x
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Currently, the California pistachio industry relies on four rootstocks: two species and two interspecific hybrids—P. atlantica, P. integerrima, P. integerrima × P. atlantica, and P. atlantica × P. integerrima. The first three are open-pollinated, the last is the result of a closed pollination. The objective of these long-term trials is to compare rootstock behavior in the three major pistachio-producing regions of California. Three trials of 100 replications consisting of one of each of the four rootstocks were established in the three major growing regions of California in 1988. All the rootstocks in all three locations were budded with buds from the same female and male trees. Thus, all differences in performance are the result of rootstock or local climate. Results thus far demonstrate that rootstocks with P. atlantica as the maternal parent are more cold tolerant; more efficient in boron, zinc, and copper uptake; less vigorous; less precocious; and more susceptible to V. dahliae than rootstocks with P. integerrima as the maternal parent. The results also demonstrate that pistachios in California's southern San Joaquin Valley will bear 1 year ahead of pistachios in the central San Joaquin Valley or the northern Sacramento Valley. Trees on rootstocks with P. integerrima parentage also bear earlier than trees on P. atlantica and have higher yield efficiencies. All are colonized by vesicular–arbuscular mycorrhizae.

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Four pistachio rootstocks, Pistacia atlantica, P. integerrima, and two selections of the same interspecific hybridization, P. atlantica, P. atlantica × P. integerrima (A.K.A. PGII and UCB #1) budded with P.vera, P. vera cv. Kerman females have been evaluated since 1989 in three locations in California's central San Joaquin Valley. Thus far, Atlantica is the most cold tolerant, followed by the interspecific hybrids and Integerrima. Integerrima and UCB no. 1 have produced significantly more clusters and nuts per tree, but all rootstocks have produced the same numbers of nuts per cluster. Trees on no.1 and Integerrima rootstocks also have produced significantly more kilograms of nuts per trunk cross sectional area than Atlantica and PGII. UCB #1 and Integerrima also are significantly more tolerant of the soilborne fungus Verticillium dahl. All rootstocks are equally infected with three species vesicular–arbuscular mycorrhizzae. Two seasons of irrigation with water up to 8.00 dS·m–2, have not affected rootstock performance or yield. UCB #1, Integerrima, and PGII all require supplemental boron, zinc, and copper nutrition for good production. Thus far, Integerrima is the best rootstock for soils with verticillium infestations unless winter temperatures are frequently below freezing. UCB #1 is the best rootstock for locations with cold winters.

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Mature hedgerow walnut trees (Juglans regia L. cv. Chico) were irrigated at rates of 33, 67, and 100% of potential orchard ETc (about 350, 700, and 1050 mm/season, respectively) for three years. All trees were then returned to 100% ETc for the subsequent three year period.

Deficit irrigation reduced vegetative growth as measured by shaded area of the orchard floor and trunk growth. Yield reductions, which were minimal after one season, were significantly greater in years two and three. However, the relationships between crop yield and applied water were linear for all deficit irrigation seasons. Upon a return to full irrigation, trunk (and presumably shoot) growth of the previously stressed trees accelerated to levels greater than the control. The subsequent increase in fruiting positions resulted in a return to full production after two years. This suggests that hedgerow walnuts have the potential to recover rapidly from drought-induced production losses if no secondary effects of tree water stress, such as disease or pests, occur.

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Rootstock significantly alters the pattern of shoot growth of pistachio (Pistacia vera) cv. Kerman. Trees grown on P. atlantica typically produce a single flush of spring growth, whereas trees on P. integerrima selection PGI and P. atlantica × P. integerrima selection UCB-1 can produce multiple flushes during the season. We have shown that the spring flush is entirely preformed in the dormant bud for all three rootstocks, but later flushes are neoformed, that is, nodes are initiated and extended during the same season. Shoots producing both preformed and neoformed growth have lower yield efficiency than those producing only preformed growth. Additionally, yield components of the crop from shoots with both preformed and neoformed growth was different than for shoots producing only preformed growth. However, these differences do not appear to be significant at the whole tree level. These data suggest that neoformed growth can both compete with fruit growth for available resources (lower yield efficiency) and act as an additional source (altered yield components), depending on the factor being measured. Controlling neoformed growth may potentially increase pistachio yield through a shift to the more efficient preformed shoots while at the same time lowering orchard maintenance costs by reducing required pruning. We have data to indicate that regulated deficit irrigation and new pruning techniques may be viable methods for controlling neoformed growth in pistachio without affecting yield.

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Rootstock significantly alters the pattern of shoot growth of pistachio (Pistacia vera) cv. Kerman. Trees on P. atlantica typically produce a single flush of spring growth whereas trees on P. integerrima selection PGI and P. atlantica × P. integerrima selection UCB-1 can produce multiple flushes during the season. Terminal buds of shoots on all three rootstocks were dissected during the dormant season to determine the number of preformed nodes. Data indicate that there are 8-9 nodes preformed in the dormant terminal bud of shoots from Kerman trees and that this number is independent of rootstock, canopy location, crop load, and shoot carbohydrate concentration, suggesting genetic control. This number corresponds with the number of nodes typically found on a shoot at the end of the spring growth flush. Unlike the spring flush which is preformed in the dormant bud, later flushes are neoformed, that is, nodes are initiated and extended during the same season. Neoformed growth depends on current season photosynthates and may compete with fruit growth for available resources. Neoformed growth is sensitive to water stress and trees on all three rootstocks grown under two levels of regulated deficit irrigation showed a reduction in both the number and length of neoformed shoots. Preformed shoot growth did not appear to be reduced under water stress conditions, supporting the hypothesis that preformed shoots are more dependent on environmental conditions during the season they are initiated than during the season they are extended. Additionally, preformed shoots on well irrigated trees were similar in length for all rootstocks, further supporting the idea that preformed shoots are under genetic control and are not easily manipulated.

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Springtime flail mowing of row middles for weed control in California pistachio (Pistacia vera L.) orchards blows dust into the leafless canopy if it occurs during bloom. The effect of dust on pistachio pollination and fruit set is unknown. Rachises were bagged prebloom and hand pollinated with pollen and dust mixtures at 1:0, 1:1, 1:4, 1:16, and 0:1 volume/volume ratios on five successive days. The 2016 and 2017 trials demonstrated that the inflorescences treated with a high pollen:dust ratio (0:1, 1:4, and 1:16) had significantly lower split nut rates (commercially less profitable) compared with low dust ratio tests (1:0 and 1:1). Our results also showed that dust damaged both pollen viability and stigma quality, particularly if contaminated with herbicide residues (GlyStar® Plus and Treevix®). Decreased yield was a function of decreased fruit set; increased embryo abortion, parthenocarpy, or both; and a lower split nut percentage. The GA3 content in flowers of both the pollen and dust treatments was significantly higher than that in nonpollinated flowers, suggesting dust stimulated parthenocarpy, resulting in empty nutshells, “blanks” at harvest.

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