In mature almond (Prunus dulcis) orchards, the majority of crop is borne on spurs (short, proleptic shoots) that can live for several years and can produce from one to five fruits. Previous research has led to the hypothesis that spur longevity is related to spur light exposure, cropping and age. However, limited quantitative data are available to substantiate these hypotheses. The objective of this study was to determine spur characteristics that were most highly correlated with spur productivity and longevity in mature, bearing almond trees. Previous year spur leaf area was strongly related to spur viability and flowering; the greater the leaf area in the previous year, the higher the probability of spur survival into the next year and the higher the probability for the spur to bear one or more flowers. Previous year bearing also appeared to influence viability and return bloom, especially in spurs with low leaf area. These results suggest that spur source-sink balance is basic to the life cycle of almond spurs. Furthermore, the results are consistent with the hypothesis that spurs are semi-autonomous organs with respect to carbohydrate balance for much of the growing season. Finally, this information provides general thresholds for maintaining spur viability and productivity that will be useful for developing and evaluating tree training systems and orchard management practices.
- Carbohydrate Metabolism
- Plant Leaves