Late spring freezes often result in significant flower bud kill in deciduous fruit trees. Some products have been marketed as frost protectant compounds which purportedly protect flower stigmas and ovaries from freezing injury and death. Two of these compounds, Frost Free and Frostgard, were tested at two locations in South Carolina over three years. Varieties `Junegold', `Loring', `Redhaven', and `Jefferson' were treated with Frost Free (FF) in years 1988-1990 and with Frostgard (FG) in 1990. Significant differences in fruit yield and vegetative growth occurred during this period, but no consistent trends were evident. In 1989, FF-treated `Redhaven' and `Jefferson' trees averaged 10.5 and 21.8 kg more fruit/tree than the controls. However, no lethal cold temperatures occurred during the bloom period. In 1990, FG-treated `Redhaven' trees averaged 8.0 kg more fruit/tree than the control trees. The fruit from FF-treated trees were lower in Brix, had less red color, and vegetative shoot growth was slightly greater than that of the FG and check trees. These data suggest that Frost Free may have plant growth regulator properties.
Poor peach seed germination can be a problem for commercial tree fruit nurseries. Even standard rootstocks such as Lovell and Nemaguard do not always have high germination rates. New seed-propagated rootstocks under development, such as Guardian peach rootstock, often are selected for their field traits, with nursery characteristics being of secondary importance. Guardian rootstock is derived from bulked open-pollinated seed from a number of F1 seedling selections. Germination of Guardian bulked seed has been poor. Four pre-stratification cold treatments were given to four 100-seed lots each of Lovell, Nemaguard, and 10 Guardian selections prior to planting each year (1994 to 1998) in a Cecil sandy loam at Musser Fruit Research Center near Clemson, S.C. Treatments included taking dry, refrigerated seed that were harvested in August and soaking 100-seed seedlots in 1500 mL perlite and 400 mL distilled water for 0 (no soaking), 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks at 6 °C before sowing (typically early November). All treatments consisted of 25 seeds per replicate (4 reps/year) per rootstock or selection and were sowed the same day. The experiment was analyzed as a blocked split plot design with duration of stratification the whole-plot and seedlot the sub-plot. Number of emerged seedlings were counted weekly starting in January of each year. There were significant differences between stratification treatments, seedlots and years. The 6-week pre-stratification had the highest germination over 5 years and like the 8-week treatment advanced the average germination date by 20 to 30 days. Nemaguard (65%), Lovell (64%), and Guardian 3-17-7 (60%) had the best germination percent across all treatments and years, with SL2891 (42%) slightly less. All other selections averaged less than 25%. Year-to-year variation was large, indicating strong environmental influences on seed germination despite the pre-stratification treatments.
More than 400 genotypes of Prunus were evaluated for “in field” rooting and survival from fall-planted hardwood cuttings treated with 2000 ppm IBA. Cultivars of European and Japanese plums originating from species and interspecific hybrids of the section (sect.) Prunus had the highest survival. Cuttings from cultivars of sand cherry (sect. Microcerasus) and peach (sect. Euamygdalus) averaged 28% to 54% lower survival than European and Japanese plums. Few cultivars of almonds (sect. Euamygdalus), apricots (sect. Armeniaca), and American plums (sect. Prunocerasus) rooted from hardwood cuttings. Chemical name used: 1H-indole-3-butyric acid (IBA).