Influence of Rootstocks on Winter-Hardiness of Plum Generative Buds During the Wintering Period in Two Growing Regions

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The selection of appropriate rootstock is the main precondition for obtaining a high yielding and sustainable plum orchard. In the Northern climate, plum overwintering is especially important, where winter hardiness of flower buds is one of indicators. This investigation was carried out during three wintering periods (2010–2013) at the Institute of Horticulture in Pūre (Latvia) and the Polli Horticultural Research Centre (Estonia), in orchards planted in 2001. The aim of the investigation was to evaluate the influence of different rootstocks on the viability of flower buds during winter for two plum cultivars in two growing regions. European plum ‘Victoria’ and hybrid plum ‘Kubanskaya Kometa’ grafted on eight clonal and eight seedling rootstocks were used in the investigation. Bud samples were taken two times during winter: end of January and end of March. The viability of flower buds and flowering intensity were determined in the laboratory. The viability was determined as dehydrogenase activity using triphenyl tetrazole chloride (0.5%), where in living cells the colourless substance due to enzymatic activity turns into a brightly coloured product — formasan. The optical density of colour was determined with a spectrophotometer at 485 nm. Both cultivars ‘Kubanskaya Kometa’ and ‘Victoria’ had higher flower bud viability in Polli compare to Pūre. In both growing regions, the highest activity of dehydrogenases for cultivar ‘Kubanskaya Kometa’ was on rootstocks ‘Myrobalan’, ‘St. Julien INRA 2’, ‘Wangenheims Zwetsche’ and for cultivar ‘Victoria’ — on rootstocks ‘Ackermann’, ‘Brompton’ seedlings, and ‘St. Julien d’ Orleans’. The dehydrogenase activity of in flower buds had a tendency to decrease during winter.

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