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  • Author or Editor: William Olson x
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Six years of previous research in a 12-year-old English walnut orchard, with a history of potassium deficiency, created a large number of trees with different potassium status. This provided the opportunity to study the long-term effects different potassium status has on English walnut trees growth, productivity, and nut quality. Walnut trees with a history of potassium deficiency, adequacy or luxury continued in this mode during this evaluation. Positive correlations existed between July leaf potassium levels and tree trunk sectional area (TCSA), visual potassium status, percent husk potassium, yield per tree, and tree yield per TCSA. These positive correlations suggest July leaf potassium levels of 1.4% to 1.5% as being adequate. This is higher than the 1.2% leaf potassium level currently recommended as being adequate for a July sample. Poor or no correlations existed between July leaf potassium levels and percent shell potassium, shell weight, shell breaking force, percent broken shell, nut size, nut weight, percent kernel potassium, percent light-colored kernels, percent edible kernel, percent kernel yield, or percent shriveled kernel. Trees with leaf potassium levels at or above 1.5% July leaf potassium produced 80 pounds per tree more yield than trees with leaf potassium levels at or below 1.0% July leaf potassium levels. These data indicate that good tree potassium status influences tree size and tree productivity. Also the walnut husk is an important sink for the accumulation of potassium. Currently recommended adequate potassium levels for walnut appear to be lower than what this study indicates.

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The Persian or English walnut (Juglans regia) is widely cultivated, with commercial production in France, Italy, Turkey, China, and the United States. Practically all of the U.S. production of Persian walnuts is in the central valley of California, which now has about 169,000 bearing acres with an average yield of around one and one-third short tons per acre. Many orchards produce over two tons, and three tons per acre are common in many modern plantings. Walnuts have two major outlets: the exported in-shell market (about 35% of production) and the domestic shelled market (about 68% of production). A cooperative handles about half the crop, while several independent handlers sell the remainder. Walnuts are sensitive to both low and high temperatures. Temperatures in excess of 90 °F will begin to sunburn nuts. Freezing temperatures will damage tender growth in the spring and fall. Dormant trees can tolerate 15 °F without injury if soils are moist. Dry winter soils and cold temperatures cause winter kill. A minimum of 800 hours of winter chilling are required to avoid delayed bud break and poor crops. Walnuts do best on deep, medium textured, well drained soil. Under these conditions, both rootstocks, the Northern California Black Walnut (J. hindsii) and Paradox (J. regia x J. hindsii), do well. Under less favorable soil conditions, Paradox is the preferred rootstock. A mature walnut orchard requires 4 to 4.5 acre-feet of water per acre per year if the trees are to produce the maximum number of high quality nuts possible. Hartley, preferred for its in-shell quality, is the leading cultivar, with about 30% of the acreage. In recent years, the Chandler variety has accounted for most new plantings. It is known for high kernel quality and yields. Yield factors include: bearing habit, bearing area, flower differentiation, fruit set, nut size, kernel percentage, and kernel quality. Major insect pests of walnut include codling moth, navel orangeworm, and walnut husk fly. The major diseases are walnut blight, deep bark canker, Phytophthora, and blackline. Major research efforts include the walnut breeding program, which includes blackline and Phytophthora susceptibility of new cultivars and root-stocks, codling moth and walnut husk fly control, epidemiology and control of walnut blight, pruning and planting strategies, and clonal propagation.

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English walnut (Juglans regia) producers in California compete with many insect and disease pests to produce an acceptable crop. Traditional control strategies work reasonably well for most pests. However, environmental concerns, loss of certain pesticides and new or impending regulations threaten the use of many traditional techniques for control of many of the pests. Codling moth (Cydia pomonella), walnut husk fly (Rhagoletis completa), and walnut aphid (Chromaphis juglandicola) are the major insects that affect California walnut production. Control strategies that use integrated pest management programs, beneficial insects, mating disruption, insect growth regulators, improved monitoring techniques and precise treatment timing based on the insect's life cycle are leading edge techniques currently available for insect control in walnuts. Major diseases include walnut blight (Xanthomonas campestris pv. juglandis), crown gall (Agrobacterium tumefaciens) and crown and root rot (Phytophthora spp). Both copper resistant and copper sensitive strains of the walnut blight bacterium are best controlled with combinations of copper bactericides and maneb instead of copper materials alone. A new computer model, Xanthocast, used to forecast the need for walnut blight treatment is under evaluation. Crown gall is managed using a preplant biological control agent and a heat treatment to eradicate existing galls. Phytophthora crown and root rot is dealt with primarily by site selection, irrigation management and rootstock selection.

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French prunes growing on marianna 2624 (P. cerasifera × P. munsonianna; M 2624), myrobalan seedling and 29C (P. cerasifera; MS and M 29C, respectively) were planted in 1981 on a clay type soil, and evaluated for growth and yield components over a 10 year period. Thirty replicate trees per treatment were pruned and grown under uniform irrigation and fertility regimes. There were no tree size differences among rootstocks after 10 years growth even though initial and seasonal trunk cross sectional area differences were observed. Trees on MS rootstock were highest yielding in the initial 2 years of fruiting, but cumulative yields were not different as a function of rootstock. More rootstock suckers were counted on M 2624 than myrobalan rootstocks. Excavations revealed that trees on MS had a deeper root distribution. No statistical differences were observed with regard to fruit size and fresh to dry fruit weight ratios.

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Initial leaf tissue-analysis indicated that the degree of distortion and dieback in a young walnut orchard was correlated with decreasing amounts of Cu in the leaf. Complete correction of Cu deficiency was obtained for two years when high rates of Kocide 101 were used or when low rates were applied repeatedly each year. Soil treatments gave partial correction; soil injected treatments showed continued improvement over time. Tissue analysis for Cu correlated well with the degree of distortion and dieback in the trees. Critical Cu levels in the walnut kernel were 4 ppm and 3 ppm in the leaf. Kernel and leaf tissue levels were highly correlated. Shriveling of the kernels was the main nut quality symptom associated with Cu deficiency. High rates of foliar or a combination of foliar and soil treatments may give the best results in young trees. Once trees are in production, the standard yearly Cu program for walnut blight control should provide adequate Cu deficiency correction.

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Successful fruit set in triploid watermelons [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai] requires a diploid watermelon cultivar, or pollenizer, to be planted nearby as a pollen source. Pollenizer cultivars have been developed to be planted in-row with triploid plants without spacing change, which decreases area per plant. These cultivars have different growth habits, from highly reduced foliage to standard foliage, and it is uncertain how pollenizer growth habit may affect triploid plant growth and yield. Two diploid watermelon pollenizers, ‘Mickylee’ and ‘SP-1’, with markedly different growth habits were planted at five in-row spacings from triploid plants to determine the effect of plant competition on triploid watermelon yield. All treatments used a 1:1 pollenizer to triploid ratio to measure the direct effect of pollenizer growth on associated triploid yields. Experiments were conducted at two locations during Spring 2006 (Quincy and Citra, FL) and one during Fall 2006 (Quincy). Triploid plants paired with ‘Mickylee’ yielded 11.4% (Citra) and 22.4% (Quincy) less weight in the spring and 8.5% less in the fall than plants paired with ‘SP-1’ and also produced fewer fruits per plant. However, the results from the fall trial were not significant. Pollenizer to triploid spacing had a linear effect on yield per plant and fruits per plant, and there was no interaction between pollenizer cultivar and spacing. The use of ‘Mickylee’ as a pollenizer may be an attractive option because of lower seed costs compared with other pollenizers, but these results indicated lower triploid watermelon yields from plants paired with ‘Mickylee’, which is most likely a result of increased plant competition.

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Annual pruning was compared with nonpruning for 8 years and to two biennial pruning treatments for 4 years in a mature full-canopied `Ashley' walnut (Juglans regia L.) orchard. Light penetration and nut distribution through the canopy was improved by pruning. Nut size and percent edible kernel was consistently lower in nonpruned trees than in trees pruned annually or biennially. Yield from annually pruned trees was not significantly different from that of the nonpruned trees because of the removal of fruitful spurs. Yield of biennially pruned trees was similar to annually pruned or nonpruned trees in the year following pruning, but yield was usually greater during years in which trees were not pruned.

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Walnut Blight caused by the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris pathovar juglandis is a very destructive disease for California walnut production. Streptomycin is an effective disease control material; however, Streptomycin sprays can result in significant nut drop 3 to 5 weeks after spray application. We investigated the basis for walnut drop following applications of Streptomycin (Agrimycin) for walnut blight control. Flowers and developing nuts were collected from four treatments, plus an unsprayed control. 200 ppm Streptomycim was applied at 1) budbreak; 2) pre, full, and post-bloom; 3) postbloom; 4) budbreak and postbloom; 5) untreated control. Samples were collected regularly beginning at the first budbreak spray and extending through the period of nut drop. Samples were fixed and prepared for histological examination. In treatments with a high incidence of nut drop, the embryo failed to develop. Examination of the stigma and style in flowers from these treatments showed inhibited pollen tube growth. Results indicate that Streptomycin inhibits pollen tube growth, which precludes fertilization. This pattern of development and timing of nut drop following Streptomycin application at full bloom is similar in all ways to unpollinated walnut flowers. Nut growth and development appear normal for 3 to 5 weeks; then nuts abort. If Streptomycin became available for walnut blight control, sprays timed to coincide with pistillate bloom and pistillate flower receptivity should be avoided.

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Ten new marianna root-stocks [Prunus cerasifera Ehrh. × P. munsoniana Wight & Hedr.(?)] derived from open pollination of `Marianna 2616' (M series) were planted in 1987 and evaluated at four commercial orchard locations in California (Tehama, Butte, Sutter, and Merced counties) with `Improved French' prune (P. domestica L.) as the scion. These rootstocks were compared to three standard rootstocks: `Marianna 2624', myrobalan seedling (P. cerasifera Ehrh.) and `Myrobalan 29C'. Leaf potassium (K) and nitrogen (N), tree growth, fruit production and fruit quality were measured. Selection M40 in particular had high leaf N, high leaf K (equal to `Marianna 2624' and better than the myrobalan standards), higher yield efficiency per tree, fruit size, drying characteristics, and few root suckers when compared to the three standard rootstocks. M40 is being considered for patent and release by the Pomology Department at the University of California, Davis. Selection M58 had the highest yield efficiency of any tested rootstock. Several selections had characteristics that would make expanded planting worth considering.

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