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Edwin J. Reidel, Patrick H. Brown, Roger A. Duncan, and Steven A. Weinbaum

Almond [Prunus dulcis (Mill.) D.A. Webb] yields have increased substantially since the 1961 publication of the Univ. of California (UC) guidelines for leaf potassium (K). Numerous growers and reputable analytical laboratories are concerned that the recommendations for leaf K are inadequate. A highly productive almond orchard with low leaf K was selected to reassess the leaf K critical value of 1.1% to1.4% and determine the relative sensitivity of various yield determinants to inadequate K availability. Baseline yields for 100 individual trees were measured in 1998 and four rates of potassium sulfate were applied under drip irrigation emitters to establish a range of July leaf K concentrations between 0.5% and 2.1%. No relationship was observed between leaf K and post-treatment yield measurements made in 1999. We also monitored individual limb units on trees from the treatment extremes for effects of low K availability on flower number, percentage fruit set, fruit size, spur mortality, and vegetative growth (potential fruiting sites in subsequent years). Those measurements indicated that although current-year yield determinants (percentage fruit set and fruit size) were not influenced by K deficiency, components of future yield were impacted negatively by low K availability: mortality of existing fruiting spurs was increased by K deficiency and growth of fruiting wood was reduced.

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Kendra Baumgartner, Phillip Fujiyoshi, Craig Ledbetter, Roger Duncan, and Daniel A. Kluepfel

Prunus dulcis (almond) is one of the most susceptible horticultural crops to Armillaria root disease. Resistance to Armillaria mellea and Armillaria tabescens, the geographically isolated causal fungi that attack almond and closely related Prunus persica (peach), has been evaluated in studies of almond, peach, and other Prunus rootstocks, but not in one comprehensive study. We evaluated the relative resistance to A. mellea and A. tabescens of six clonally propagated almond and peach rootstocks (Bright’s 5, Empyrean 1, Hansen 536, Krymsk 1, Krymsk 86, and Lovell) in comparison with that of clonally propagated Marianna 2624 rootstock (resistant control) and clonally propagated Nemaguard rootstock (susceptible control). Replicate clones used in the growth chamber assay were micropropagated and rooted in vitro before inoculating the culture medium with Armillaria spp. At 2 months, the most resistant and susceptible rootstocks were Krymsk 86 and Hansen 536, respectively, with 27% vs. 89% mortality. This finding was consistent among two isolates of A. mellea and one isolate of A. tabescens in three replicate experiments. Our finding of low mortality among Krymsk 86, Krymsk 1, and Marianna 2624, which all share Prunus cerasifera (Myrobalan plum) parentage, is consistent with past reports of resistance in the field to A. mellea, but conflicts with reports of susceptibility to A. tabescens. Resistance to A. tabescens of genotypes with Myrobalan plum parentage in our assay may reflect the simplified rooting environment of tissue culture medium, which does not perfectly mimic a field trial, in which biotic and abiotic factors may affect host resistance. Nonetheless, our growth chamber assay may provide a more rapid alternative to identify sources of resistance for breeding and to screen progeny of such crosses.

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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.