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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Geneva, New York » Plant Genetic Resources Unit (PGRU) » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #298938

Research Project: Breeding Apple Rootstocks Tolerant to Abiotic Stresses and Resistant to Pests and Diseases

Location: Plant Genetic Resources Unit (PGRU)

Title: Unique characteristics of Geneva apple rootstocks

Author
item Fazio, Gennaro
item ALDWINCKLE, HERBERT - Cornell University - New York
item ROBINSON, TERENCE - Cornell University - New York

Submitted to: New York State Fruit Quarterly
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/12/2013
Publication Date: 8/31/2013
Citation: Fazio, G., Aldwinckle, H., Robinson, T. 2013. Unique characteristics of Geneva apple rootstocks. New York State Fruit Quarterly 1(2):25-28.

Interpretive Summary: Apple rootstocks are used in commercial orchard operations to increase production of grafted scion varieties like ‘Honeycrisp’, ‘Gala’ or ‘Fuji’. Thanks to many years of investment into breeding and evaluation of apple rootstocks the Geneva® breeding program has produced a series of unique apple rootstocks that consistently outperform the current commercial standards in both productivity and disease resistance. In this article we describe unique characteristics that typify rootstocks developed in the Geneva® breeding program. Disease resistance, induction of early bearing and more open scion canopies are among some of the benefits of utilizing Geneva® apple rootstocks that are increasing the productivity of the apple industry.

Technical Abstract: The Geneva® apple rootstock breeding program has been operating since the early 1970’s. It is a unique program in that it had access to important germplasm resources that later became the USDA ARS apple collection in Geneva, NY. This genetic diversity allowed for the achievement of one of the project goals: breeding disease resistant apple rootstocks while achieving gains in productivity. A visionary Cornell University plant breeder (Dr. Cummins) and plant pathologist (Dr. Aldwinckle) are the scientists who decades ago pioneered the utilization of wild germplasm to provide the apple industry with dwarfing disease resistant rootstocks. The USDA ARS joined the effort in the late 1990’s to maintain the momentum of the breeding program. The ultimate purpose of the Geneva® apple rootstock breeding program matches the ultimate goal of apple growers: to maximize efficient production of high quality apples by grafted apple scions in a commercial orchard setting. Many factors influence fruit yield and quality, but there are a few choices that a grower can make only once in the lifetime of an orchard – the choice of an apple rootstock compatible with a productive orchard system is one of those major decisions that can enhance or shatter the yield potential of an orchard. The expectation of the Geneva® rootstock breeding program is to provide better choices and alternatives relative to the currently available population of apple rootstocks. In this article we describe unique properties of Geneva® apple rootstocks and discuss the benefits of these rootstocks in modern apple orchards.