Differences in chilling and post-rest heat requirements of various stonefruits were investigated through the use of cuttings collected from field grown trees. Materials studied included P. angustifolia Marsh, P. besseyi Bailey, P. maritima Marsh, P. persica (L.) Batsch (`Agua 6-4', `Flordaking', `Pi Tao', `Redhaven', `Redskin', and `Ta Tao'), P. umbellata Ell. and a Japanese type plum (`Byrongold'). Cuttings were collected after natural leaf fall and shortly after the onset of of chill hour accumulation. Cuttings were stored at 4°C. Groups of cuttings were removed from storage after various amounts of chilling and allowed to develop at 16, 21 or 27°C. Cuttings were observed for both vegetative and flower bud break. Magnitude of differences in chilling and post-rest heat requirements and their implications in the breeding of peaches for low and moderate chill areas will be discussed.
A rootstock collection of Prunus species and hybrids is maintained at the U.S. Department of Agriculture stone fruit breeding program at Byron, GA. We genotyped 66 Prunus rootstock accessions and clones using chloroplast and nuclear microsatellites in this study. Chloroplast microsatellites revealed that the accessions belong to four previously defined maternal lineage groups (MLG-1 to -4) and five new ones (MLG-9 to -13). MLG-1 and -2 share the same chloroplast alleles of ‘Chinese Cling’ peach (Prunus persica) derived scions and American scions and rootstocks related to early European introductions, respectively. MLG-3 included ‘Guardian’ rootstock and its descendants. MLG-4 had a single genotype, ‘Okinawa’, that is the maternal parent of ‘Flordaking’. MLG-9 and MLG-11 to -13 included hybrids with different plums (Prunus salicina, Prunus cerasifera, Prunus tomentosa, or Prunus angustifolia) in their maternal parentage. MLG-10 included hybrids from almond (Prunus. dulcis) in the maternal parentage. The neighbor-joining phylogenetic tree based on nuclear microsatellite genotyping data showed several clusters. Cluster I included only one scion cultivar Elberta from MLG-1. Clusters II, III, and V contained peach accessions mostly in MLG-2. Clusters IV and VI included accessions mostly in MLG-3. Cluster VII included most accessions of plum-peach hybrid origin and those found within MLG-13. Cluster VIII was found to be mixed with different plum-peach hybrids and hybrids from other Prunus species, most of which were found in MLG-10, -11, and -12. Most accessions in Cluster IX were related to plums in MLG-11 and a few accessions in MLG-9.
The primary purpose of the three-way cooperative regional project involving the USDA, University of Georgia, and University of Florida, is to develop improved fresh-market peach cultivars for use in the moderate-chill areas of the southeastern United States. Since 1995, this project has concentrated on the development of non-melting flesh materials as an alternative to conventional melting-type cultivars. It is our belief that the slower softening, non-melting characteristic will allow growers to pick fruit several days later at a more mature stage, thus improving eating quality without sacrificing shipping ability. To date, this program has released three non-melting peach cultivars and is poised to release several more. Through our postharvest evaluations we have been able to demonstrate that these new releases and selections have equal, if not superior, firmness compared to current commercial melting-type cultivars, in combination with higher soluble solids and soluble solids/titratable acidity ratios. Compared to current commercial melting-type cultivars, the new non-melting releases and selections display superior red skin blush, fruit shape, and cropping ability. Moreover, they are of comparable size and have a significantly reduced incidence of split and shattered pits.
Prunus phylogeny has been extensively studied using chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) sequences. Chloroplast DNA has a slow rate of evolution, which is beneficial to determine species relationships at a deeper level. The chloroplast-based phylogenies have a limitation due to the transfer of this organelle by interspecific hybridization. This creates difficulties when studying species relationships. Interspecific hybrids in Prunus occur naturally and have been reported, which creates a problem when using cpDNA-based phylogenies to determine species relationships. The main goal of this project was to identify nuclear gene regions that could provide an improved phylogenetic signal at the species level in Prunus. A total of 11 species in Prunus and within section Prunocerasus were used. Two peach (Prunus persica) haploids were used to test the reliability of the molecular markers developed in this project to amplify single-copy genes. A total of 33 major genes associated with vernalization response, 16 with tree architecture, and 3 with isozymes, were tested. Similarly, 41 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers, seven cpDNA regions, and the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region, were used. Multiple gene regions were identified and provided the greatest number of characters, greatest variability, and improved phylogenetic signal at the species level in Prunus section Prunocerasus. Out of those, trnH-psbA, PGI, MAX4, AXR1, LFY, PHYE, and VRN1 are recommended for a phylogenetic analysis with a larger number of taxa. The use of potentially informative characters (PICS) as a measure of how informative a region will be for phylogenetic analyses has been previously reported beneficial in cpDNA regions and it clearly was important in this research. This will allow selecting the region(s), which can be used in phylogenetic studies with higher number of taxa.
Southeastern peach and pecan orchards weathered hurricanes in the 1980s and 1990s that left long-term effects on tree health and productivity. Pecan trees were affected the most, due to being blown down from strong winds and wet soils or suffering considerable damage to branches and immature nuts resulting in massive nut drops. Premature nut drop triggered or enhanced alternate bearing problems. Cultivar differences were evident in the ability of trees to withstand wind damage, with open-canopy trees being most resistant, but essentially all trees were damaged when they exceeded ≈17m in height. Hurricanes in older, alternate-bearing orchards sometimes broke enough limbs to induce sufficient vegetative regrowth to reestablish an equilibrium between sink (nuts) and source (foliage), thus enhancing yields in subsequent years. Peach trees which were less than 4.5 m tall and already harvested usually did not blow over unless the soil was very wet. However, peach trees were often twisted about the tree axis from the change in wind directions as the hurricane passed over. Afterwards, many trees leaned more than 30 °, especially trees less than 6 to 7 years of age. Root damage was significant and increased when trees were manually repositioned as additional root breakage occured from which these trees often later died. Trees not repositioned but instead retrained to vertical by pruning lived longer. Ambrosia beetles also attacked wind-stressed trees and caused a long-term decline. Slow moving hurricanes significantly damaged peach trees by waterlogging the soil, which killed roots and helped primary pathogens such as Phytophthora sp. to attack the tree crown. This was followed by secondary pathogens like Oxyporous sp., which attacked the internal woody cylinder. Initial trunk damage appeared localized; however, trees continued to die over a number of years. Experience showed that whole orchard removal on severe waterlogged sites was the best economical response.
Peach fruit set is affected by cumulative chill and spring frost. A spring frost occurred on 29 Mar. 2015 at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) Byron station after 3 weeks of bloom, reducing fruit set and resulting in many buttons (abnormally small fruit with dead embryos). Fruit set was rated in 2014, 2015, and 2016 and button set rated in 2015 using the same scale (0 = no fruit/button to 9 = 1–2 fruit/button at every node). The overall fruit set rating was substantially different in the 3 years, averaging 5.61 in 2014, 2.61 in 2015, and 6.04 in 2016. Buttons and skin-damaged fruit in 2015 varied among peach genotypes. Comparison of fruit and button set ratings showed that there was no difference between cultivars and selections, but some significant differences in fruit set for four ripening months, among the 3 years, and among the nine chilling classes, respectively. Among the cultivars, the most common button set rating was 0–3. For example, ‘Sunprince’, ‘Loring’, and ‘Carored’ trees had a high button set rating, whereas ‘Flameprince’, ‘Julyprince’, and ‘Contender’ trees were low. As for peach selections, BY04P1690n was among those with the highest button set rating. In the population derived from a cross of button-prone BY04P1690n and button-free BY99P3866w, fruit and button counts from 10 long fruiting shoots ranged from 4 to 53 fruit (21.63 on average) and 2 to 27 buttons (10.39 on average). The peach button rate ranged from 5.36% to 87.10% (30.70% on average). The range, distribution, and percentage of the button counts suggested that, if buttoning was genetically controlled, it appeared quantitative. Further assessment is needed.
The effects of short-term soil flooding on gas exchange characteristics of containerized sour cherry trees (Prunus cerasus L. cv. Montmorency /P. mahaleb L.) were studied under laboratory conditions. Soil flooding reduced net CO2 assimilation (A) within 24 hours. Net CO2 assimilation and residual conductance to CO2(gr′) declined to ≈30% of control values after 5 days of flooding. Effects on stomatal conductance to CO2 (gS) and intercellular CO2 (Ci) were not significant during the 5 days of treatment. Apparent quantum yield (Φ) gradually declined to 52% that of controls during these 5 days. In a second experiment, CO2 response curves suggested that, initially, stomatal and nonstomatal limitations to A were of about equal importance; however, as flooding continued, nonstomatal limitations became dominant.