The peach (cv. September Sun) and nectarine (cv. Rose Bright) rootstock experiments are investigating the impact of three crop loads (high, medium and low) across 5 different rootstocks examining effects on yield and fruit quality.
Video transcript

Rootstock vigour is an important criteria for orchard management and directly influences tree growth and development, yield and fruit quality outcomes. Other agronomic characteristics of root systems include precocity, adaptability to soil, climate and the tolerance to stress or biotic stress such as nematodes, virus, bacteria and fungus. Worldwide, there's very few root stock breeding programs in stone fruit. In Australia, however, Nemaguard is the current industry standard for peach and nectarine.

In terms of rootstock performance on yield and fruit quality for early season nectarine Rose Bright, we found that Cornerstone rootstocks increased average fruit weight, and the fruit red skin cover coverage was greater compared to Nemaguard. Krymsk1 trees produced equivalent fruit weight, and sweetness, and improved red cover coverage compared to Nemaguard. The fruit yield and quality attributes of Elberta and Krymsk86 was similar to Nemaguard. So when we assessed the tree growth matrix, we showed that Elberta and Cornerstone rootstocks had similar tree growth and development compared to Nemaguard. Krmsk86 trees showed semi-dwarfing traits, that is lower, light interception of the canopies compared to Nemaguard. However, Krymsk86 trees had greater suckering.

Relative to Nemaguard, Krymsk1 one exhibited dwarfing characteristics, reduced tree size and reduce vegetative growth. Krymsk1 trees produce less pruning biomass, smaller main branches and lower levels of canopy light interception and reduced shoot length. From an orchard management perspective, Krymsk1 grew excessive levels of suckers each season.

Examining the rootstock performance of yield and fruit quality on late season peach September Sun, the work has shown the Krymsk86 trees produce similar yield fruit weight, and Brix to Nemaguard. However, fruit red skin coverage was improved under Krymsk86 trees. Yield and fruit quality outcomes of Cadaman are similar to Nemaguard. Relative to Nemaguard, Cornerstone and Elberta increased fruit weight and red skin coverage.

The work has shown in terms of tree growth and vegetative growth, the Cadaman, Alberta and Cornerstone had similar tree growth and development compared to Nemaguard. However, compared the Nemaguard, Krymsk86 trees exhibited a semi dwarfing characteristics whereby they had less pruning biomass, smaller main branch size and less.canopy light interception.

The tree survival in establishment years was lowest underKrymsk86, however, since then there's been no issues with tree death. Suckering on the Krymsk86 trees was greater than Nemaguard.

I'm Mark O'Connell, senior research scientist at Agriculture Victoria, based at Tatura SmartFarm.

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Video: Rootstock research overview and results - Summefruit Webinar Series 2021

Summerfruit Webinar August 2021 - Rootstock research on peach and nectarine (20 min)

Dr Mark O'Connell from Agriculture Victoria discusses 5 years of research into rootstocks on peach and nectarine at the Summerfruit Webinar August 2021.

Introduction to the research

The peach (cv. September Sun) and nectarine (cv. Rose Bright) rootstock experiments are investigating the impact of three crop loads (high, medium and low) across 5 different rootstocks examining effects on yield, distribution of sugars (brix content), maturity and fruit quality.

About the rootstock experiments

Grower Protocols - Rootstock performance in stonefruit

Current recommendations and guidelines

Researcher: Mark O'Connell, Agriculture Victoria, Tatura (researchgate)

  • Rootstock selection at crop establishment governs tree performance and orchard production potential.
  • Worldwide there are few rootstock breeding programs for stonefruit. In Australia, Nemaguard is the current industry standard rootstock for peach and nectarine.
  • Scion vigour induced by rootstocks is an important criterion for orchard management and directly influences tree growth and development, precocity, yield and fruit quality. Other agronomic characteristics of rootstocks include adaptability to soil type (physical properties, pH) and tolerance/resistance to abiotic (drought, heat, salinity, waterlogging) and biotic (nematode, virus, bacterial, fungal) stress.
  • Research at Tatura into rootstocks for peach and nectarine using dwarfing, semi-dwarfing and high vigour stocks found rootstock-induced vigour effects on tree growth and development, yield and fruit quality.

Protocol Download PDF in new window (Note: this document does not meet WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines)

Table 2. Characteristics of rootstocks (from rootstock vigour types)

Rootstock

Pedigree

(Country of origin)

Vigour

Anchorage

Soil conditions

Drought tolerance

Iron induced chlorosis

Crown Rot

Root knot Nematode

Root lesion nematode

Crown Gall

Oak root fungus

Bacterial canker

Nemaguard

Prunus persica x Prunus davidiana (USA)

High

Good

Sandy loam, sensitive to wet soil conditions and calcareous soils

Moderate

Susceptible

Susceptible

Resistant

Susceptible

Moderately susceptible

Susceptible

Susceptible

Cornerstone

Prunus dulcis x Prunus persica (USA)

Very high

Excellent

Good in heavy soils, tolerant to saline and high pH soils

High

Resistant

Susceptible

Strong resistance

Susceptible

Moderate resistance

Unknown

Susceptible

Cadaman

Prunus persica x Prunus davidiana (France, Hungary)

High

Good

Sandy loam, tolerant to alkaline soils and wet conditions

Unknown

Tolerant

Unknown

Resistant

Susceptible

Unknown

Unknown

Unknown

Krymsk® 1

Prunus tomentosa x Prunus cerasifera (Russia)

Dwarfing

Good

Sandy loam, tolerant to alkaline soils and wet conditions

Unknown

Unknown

Susceptible

Susceptible

Tolerant

Susceptible

Unknown

Susceptible

Krymsk® 86

Prunus persica x Prunus cerasifera (Russia)

Semi-vigorous

Good

Tolerant to alkaline soils and wet conditions

Unknown

Unknown

Unknown

Moderately susceptible

Moderate tolerance

Moderate resistance

Tolerant

Unknown

Elberta

Prunus persica (USA)

High

Good

Unknown

Unknown

Susceptible

Unknown

Unknown

Unknown

Unknown

Unknown

Unknown

Results

2016 - 2022

Data from the orchard:

Field and fruit quality results from the rootstock – cropload study

Production results (yield, fruit quality) in response to rootstock and crop load (high, medium, low) treatments under a vase canopy system at Tatura, Victoria.

Science paper - Nectarine and peach rootstock and crop load results

Effect of rootstock and cropload management on yield and fruit quality of early-season nectarine 'Rose Bright' and late-season peach 'September Sun'.

    International Society for Horticultural Science: O'Connell, M. and Stefanelli, D. (2020). Effects of rootstock and crop load management on yield and fruit quality of early-season nectarine 'Rose Bright' and late-season peach 'September Sun'. Acta Hortic. 1281, 121-130
    Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1281.18
    https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1281.18

    Abstract:
    The Australian summer fruit industry has identified that sales growth is impeded by low consumer satisfaction with fruit quality, leading to low prices and static consumption. The effect of rootstock and crop load on fruit production was studied in an experimental orchard at Tatura, Australia. The objective of the study was to identify combinations of rootstock and crop load management practices, under a vase training system, to enable peach 'September Sun' and nectarine 'Rose Bright' to maximise fruit quality. Crop loads were applied to induce a range of competitive source/sink responses between fruits and available assimilates. Different thinning regimes were implemented in season 2016/17 to establish the following crop load treatments: 1) high: minimally thinned; 2) medium (commercial standard as control): moderately thinned; and 3) low: heavily thinned. Rootstocks included Nemaguard (commercial standard as control), Elberta, Krymsk®86, Cadaman® and Cornerstone. Crop load and rootstock did not affect flowering date. 'Krymsk® 86' produced smaller tree size measured as canopy radiation interception (fPAR) for both cultivars. For nectarine, high crop load produced high yields, low fruit weight, reduced sweetness (°Brix), delayed maturity, increased firmness and lower pack-out percentage. Krymsk® 86 outperformed Elberta rootstock in terms of fruit size, red skin coloration and pack-out. For peach, highest yield occurred on Cornerstone trees compared to Elberta. This yield difference was reflected in yield components (fruit number, fruit size), and attributed to the capacity of available fruiting wood and photosynthetic capability governed by tree size (fPAR and branch size). Irrespective of cultivar, low crop load produced larger fruit and advanced maturity. Cornerstone produced sweeter fruit, while Krymsk® 86 had lower sweetness with greater red skin coloration. In autumn, earlier leaf drop (senescence) occurred under high crop loads and on Elberta rootstock. Presence of rootstock suckers was greatest on Krymsk® 86 and Nemaguard trees, while crop load did not impact suckers

Time series videos

Every few weeks photos were taken of each experiment, and produced into a video to show the resulting growth of tree canopies and fruit development.

Time series videos experiments 1 and 2

Project acknowledgement

This research (SF13001 Rootstock and training system to optimize stone fruit bearing and growth; SF17006 Summerfruit Orchard Phase 2) was funded by Agriculture Victoria with co-investment from Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited using the Summerfruit levy and funds from the Australian Government.

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