Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 12, 2005
Publication Date: January 19, 2005
Citation: Scorza, R., Okie, W.R., Miller, S.S., Tworkoski, T., Glenn, D.M. 2005. Developing peach cultivars with novel tree growth habits. Acta Horticulturae. 16p. Technical Abstract: Peach fruit are under intense selection pressure for numerous characteristics, such as flavor, size, color, firmness, and storage life. Optimizing favorable expression of these traits is critical for successful cultivar development. Yet, there are a number of these traits that are influenced by the tree, that along with productivity, support fruit production. There has been relatively little attention paid to tree traits that would potentially influence fruit quality and productivity, and also reduce labor and other costs of production. For the past 20 years, we have been investigating peach tree growth habits and the commercial potential for various natural variants in peach tree form. Our goal is not necessarily to replace the standard peach tree but to give producers choices in tree type to suit their particular growing conditions and to allow a range of orchard management practices. We are currently focusing on three tree types: columnar, upright, and narrow-leaf. Columnar ('Crimson Rocket') and upright ('Sweet-N-UP') cultivars have been released for commercial trial. Both forms have potential advantages over standard trees. The ultimate success of these trees remains to be determined, and they will most likely find their utilization by particular growers in particular growing regions. Narrow- or willow-leaf trees are now also under intense scrutiny. The potential advantages of this tree type include improved light penetration, spray penetration, and water use efficiency. Improvement of fruit quality on narrow-leaf trees is well underway and advanced selections are being evaluated. There are several other tree growth habits that may have potential for commercial fruit production. Most are controlled by single genes and as such, are readily manipulated and combined. In some cases, molecular markers may be used to improve selection efficiency. The investigation of peach tree growth habit and the development of cultivars with high fruit quality and novel growth habits can offer growers the potential for lowering costs and improving peach production and fruit quality.