Written by Stefan Roeder, Sara Serra, and Stefano Musacchi
Flower receptivity is a limiting factor for the fertilization of several tree fruit. The effective pollination period (EPP) can be used to determine flower longevity and identify limiting factors by assessing stigmatic receptivity, pollen tube growth rate, and ovule longevity. EPPs were determined for three apple cultivars under natural field conditions in Washington State in 2019 and 2020. In addition, a greenhouse study, performed under semi-controlled conditions, evaluated the influence of six maternal parents on the pollen tube growth performance of six pollen sources. The duration of the stigmatic receptivity ranged from 6.3 to 8.1 days, depending on the cultivar and year—pollen tubes required between 5.5 and 7.0 days from the stigma to reach the ovules. Ovule longevity of non-pollinated flowers varied between 8.2 and 11.3 days. Combinations of these factors resulted in EPPs ranging from 3.0 days for ‘Rubinstar’ to 5.6 days for ‘Olsentwo Gala’ in the present experimental conditions. The greenhouse study revealed that parentage affected pollen tube growth performance. Importantly, a significant interaction between maternal and paternal factors indicated that the performance of different pollen sources depended on the maternal parent and that general recommendation on pollination needs to account for the maternal parent.
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