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Phenotyping Almond Orchards For Architectural Traits Influenced By Rootstock Choice

Álvaro Montesinos, Grant Thorp, Jérôme Grimplet, María Rubio-Cabetas

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The cropping potential of almond (Prunus amygdalus (L.) Batsch, syn P. dulcis (Mill.)) cultivars is determined by their adaptation to edaphoclimatic and environmental conditions. The effects of scion–rootstock interactions on vigor have a decisive impact on this cropping success. Intensively planted orchards with smaller less vigorous trees present several potential benefits for increasing orchard profitability. While several studies have examined rootstock effects on tree vigor, it is less clear how rootstocks influence more specific aspects of tree architecture. The objective of this current study was to identify which architectural traits of commercially important scion cultivars are influenced by rootstock and which of these traits can be useful as descriptors of rootstock performance in breeding evaluations. To do this, 6 almond cultivars of commercial significance were grafted onto 5 hybrid rootstocks, resulting in 30 combinations that were measured after their second year of growth. We observed that rootstock choice mainly influenced branch production, but the effects were not consistent across the different scion–rootstock combinations evaluated. This lack of consistency in response highlights the importance of the unique interaction between each rootstock and its respective scion genotype.