THE BREEDING OF APRICOT SPECIES FOR DIFFERENT TRAITS AND FEATURES AT VALU LUI TRAIAN RESEARCH STATION, ROMANIA

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1 THE BREEDING OF APRICOT SPECIES FOR DIFFERENT TRAITS AND FEATURES AT VALU LUI TRAIAN RESEARCH STATION, ROMANIA Elena Topor*, Vasile Cociu**, Ramona Vasilescu* *Research Station for Fruit Growing Constanta, Romania; **Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences Bucharest, Romania Abstract Research Station for Fruit Growing Constanta is located in the south-eastern part of Romania on the territory among the Black Sea and Danube River. This land offers the best climate and soil conditions for apricot culture. Therefore, many researches regarding the organization of the germplasm fund and many works for apricot breeding for different traits and features were developed here. The organizing of germplasm fund began since 1971 year with 225 apricot cultivars and a hybrids field with 1300 trees obtained from an apricot breeding program initiated by scientist Vasile Cociu, with the collaboration of Rutgers University through professor F.L. Hough. They were planted outside of the Research Station, just near Black Sea coast. Beginning with 1982, the whole genetic fund of apricot has been established and developed in the frame of the Valu lui Traian Research Station area, where the apricot breeding program has been continued till now. For a long period, the number of apricot cultivars and selections increased to catch up with over 630. All of them have been studied and many used as genitors for different traits and features. The main objectives of the breeding program were: to prolong the harvest season, to increase fruit quality regarding the size and to obtain fruits with a high sugar content, flesh firmness, good aroma, skin and flesh color, good taste, as well as to improve the resistance to diseases such as Sharka or plum-pox virus, and to increase yields. To pursue these objectives, we employed standard breeding techniques of cross pollination, self pollination and open pollination. More than 150 cross combinations were made and more than seeds were obtained from cross combinations and another from self and open pollination. More than hybrids were subjected to evaluation in a hybrid orchard. Over 380 of the best phenotypes, genotypes and a control were tested. From these, 12 new cultivars were released and other hybrids are in the testing period. The new cultivars cover a ripening period from 10 July to 15 August. Each of them has high fruit qualities and is very productive. The paper shows the features and traits of these new cultivars named: Traian, Tudor, Auras, Danubiu, Cristal, Fortuna, Amiral, Augustin, Ceres, Histria and Euxin. Keywords: apricot cultivars: Traian, Tudor, Auras, Danubiu, Cristal, Fortuna, Amiral, Augustin, Ceres, Histria and Euxin 1.Introduction Apricot breeding has been conducted by many researchers from the entire world where apricot tree finds good conditions to grow. Researchers from Italy (Penonne, 1999; Nicotra et al., 2006; Guerriero et al., 2006), France (Audergon et al., 1999), Spain (Egea et al., 1999), Greece (Syrgianidis et al., 1999), Bulgary (Tsoneva, 1999), New Zealand (Hofstee, 1999), Slovak Republic (Benedicova, 2006), Witherspoon (1999) and many others have their own apricot breeding programs. In Romania, the apricot breeding program started in 1952, being under the leadership of Cociu (2006). He and many other researchers (Topor et al. 1997, 2006, 2007; Balan et al. 1997, 2006, 2007) worked for this program and released many cultivars including: Traian, Tudor, Fortuna, Auras, Danubiu, Cristal, Amiral, Orizont, Augustin, Ceres, Histria and Euxin. The purpose of this study is to show breeding of apricot species for different traits and features at Valu lui Traian Research Station for Fruit Growing, Romania. 34

2 2.Materials and methods A good starting point for this work was the apricot gene bank which had more then 630 clones from Asia, Europe and America. A collaboration program was established with Professor F. L. Hough from Rutgers University, who also provided pollen for hybridization work. The main objectives of the Romanian apricot breeding program were: 1) to prolong the harvest season; 2) to increase fruit high quality regarding size, high sugar content, flesh firmness, good aroma, skin and flesh color, good taste; 3) to improve the resistance to damage during transportation, to improve the resistance to diseases such as Sharka or plum pox-virus; and 4) to improve yields. To pursue these objectives, we employed standard breeding techniques of cross pollination, self pollination, and open pollination. More than 150 cross combinations were made in Constanta. More than seeds were obtained from cross combinations and another from self and open pollination. More then hybrids were subjected to evaluation in a hybrid orchard. The 380 best phenotypes, genotypes, and a control were tested. From these, 12 new cultivars were released locally and another 11 hybrids were registered at the State Institute for Variety Testing and Registration. The comparative crops with the best selections were organized at Valu lui Traian Research Station with 20 trees for each one, grafted on seedlings Prunus armeniaca, planted at 4.5m/4.5 m distances. Neptun, that has medium ripening period from 13 to 15 July and good fruit qualities, was used as a control cultivar. The climatic conditions of the site are described below. The Research Station for Fruit Growing Constanta is situated in a region which has a temperate-continental climate characterized by mild winters with the lowest temperatures not descending below -17 o C and where the summer is warm and very arid. The mean annual precipitations are around 400 mm, from which mm fall during the growing season (April- September). The culture of apricot trees in this region has good results only under irrigated conditions. The wind blows almost all the time of the year with different frequency and speed (between 7-10 m/s at 10 m height) and is the most deleterious in spring during the blossoming period when the work of hybridizations is being done. 3.Results and discussion Under the climatic conditions of the region, the apricot flowering period has very large limits, going from the first of March in earlier years (5.III.2002) till the end of April in the latest years (25.IV.2003), (Table 1). Table1. The period of blooming and date maturity (limits of variation between years ) Cultivar Period of blooming* Date of maturity Open fertility Self fertility in the early in the late (limits) % (average) % (average) years** years*** Traian 5.III 25.IV 14.VI 26.VI Fortuna 3.III 24.IV 16.VI 29.VI Auras 8.III 27.IV 17.VI 30.VI Ceres 6.III 25.IV 16.VI 28.VI Cristal 6.III 25.IV 19.VI 30.VI Danubiu 5.III 26.IV 19.VI 30.VI Amiral 7.III 27.IV 26.VI 5.VII Orizont 7.III 26.IV 7.VII 17.VII Tudor 5.III 26.IV 21.VII 27.VII Neptun-control 7.III 26.IV 13VII 20.VII Euxin 7.III 25.IV 6.VIII 14.VIII Histria 8.III 26.IV 8.VIII 15.VIII Augustin 7.III 26.IV 10.VIII 17.VIII * developing period , ** the earlier year 2002, *** the latest year 2003 During a 9-year study ( ), the apricot trees flowered five years in March: 5.III.2002; 18.III.2001; 24.III.2004; 27.III.1999; 31.III.1998 and five years in April, in 3.IV.2000 and 2006; 12.IV.2005; 18.IV.1997 and 25.IV.2003, respectively. Auras has the latest blooming period of the recently released cultivars. As a result of temperature decrease to -3 o C after the end of flowering, all the yield was destroyed in the year

3 The cultivars: Fortuna, Traian, Tudor, Danubiu have a very early flowering period, while the cultivars: Histria and Auras have a late flowering period. Whether the flowering presents a very large range with limits from one year to another for the same cultivar (e.g. 5.III IV.2003 Traian ), the ripening period is more limited, from 10 to 25 days. All new cultivars homologated have high-quality fruits and a good productivity. The fruit weight averages between 43.2 grams for Cristal and 87.0 grams for Amiral, the stone percent/100 g fruit ranges between 7.8% for Orizont and 4.6% for Amiral. Fortuna had a total sugar content of 9.14 g% while Euxin had g%, all cultivars having values ranged between these two (Table 2). Table 2. The average apricot yields and the fruit quality of new cultivars Cultivar Yields (t/ha) Fruit weight (g) %stone /100 g of fruit Dry matter Brix degrees Total acidity g% malic acid Total sugar % Traian Fortuna Auras Cristal Danubiu Ceres Amiral Orizont Tudor Neptun Euxin Histria Augustin The fruit yields (as average values for five yeas) range between 10.3 t/ha for Traian and t/ha for Augustin, all new cultivars having values ranged between these two. The harvesting season for the new cultivars is from very early which is mid June, till very late which is mid August. This range for the old apricot cultivars assortment is shown in fig

4 Fig. 1. The harvesting position of the new apricot cultivars among the old cultivars in assortment JUNE JULY AUGUST NJA 42 TUDOR TRAIAN FORTUNA AURAS CRISTAL DANUBIU C.M.B.U. NEPTUN MAMAIA CERES AMIRAL C.R GOLDRICH UMBERTO DACIA ORIZONT SIRENA HARCOT SULMONA SELENA OLIMP EUXIN LITORAL HISTRIA AUGUSTIN old cultivars new cultivars Cultivar description and characterization The new Romanian apricot cultivars are characterized as follows: Fortuna : Sam no.1 x Mari de Cenad. Tree: strong vigor, spreading appearance, bearing habit on spurs and one year old shoots, self fertility 33.6%, open fertility 49.7%, time of flowering early; Fruit: large size (52 to 70 g), round, cavity depth intermediate, depressed apex, orange skin color with intermediate red blush, orange flesh color, coarse texture of flesh, firm, stone has medium size, non-adherence, sweet core; Time of ripening: very early, 27 days before Neptun. Highly productive, over 16 t/ha. 37

5 Cristal : Sam no.1 x Mari de Cenad. Tree: Intermediate vigor, upright appearance bearing habit on spurs and one year old shoots, self fertility 44.1%, open fertility 85%, time of flowering intermediate; Fruit: medium (42-46 g), oblong/rectangular shape, cavity depth intermediate, rounded apex orange skin color with slight red blush, orange flesh color, fine texture of flesh, medium firmness, stone oblong shape, medium percent of flesh weight, non-adherence, bitter core, rich aroma. Time of ripening: early, 23 days before Neptun. Very productive, over 14 t/ha. Amiral : Mari de Cenad x CR Tree: strong vigor, upright appearance, bearing habit on spurs and one year old shoots, self fertility 71.7%, open fertility 78.3%, early season of flowering. Fruit, very large fruit size (69-94 g), oblong shape, cavity depth deep, rounded apex, orange skin color with intermediate red blush, orange flesh color fine texture, firm flesh, stone elliptic shape, big percent stone of fruit weight, nonadherence, bitter core, rich aroma, excellent eating quality; Time of ripening: early, 14 days before Neptun. High productive, over 16 t/ha. Auras : Sam no.1 x Stark Early Orange. Tree: Strong vigor, upright appearance, bearing habit on spurs prevalent, self fertility 71.7%, open fertility 78.3%, time of flowering late (the latest); Fruit: medium/large size (55-65 g) triangular shape, cavity depth deep, rounded apex, light orange skin color with intermediate red blush, orange flesh color, intermediate texture of flesh, medium firmness of flesh, stone has medium, non-adherence, strong bitterness core, rich aroma, excellent eating quality; Time of ripening: early, 25 days before Neptun. Highly productive, over 15 t/ha. Danubiu : Sam no.1 x Mari de Cenad. Tree: Intermediate vigor spreading appearance, bearing habit on one year old shoots, self fertility 40.2%, open fertility 55.3%, time of flowering intermediate; Fruit: medium/large size (48-55 g), oblong shape, cavity depth deep, rounded apex, light orange skin color the blush mostly red in certain years, orange flesh color, intermediate texture of flesh, firm, large stone non-adherence, bitter core, rich aroma, excellent eating quality; Time of ripening: early, 22 days before Neptun. Very productive, over 15 t/ha. Orizont : Mari de Cenad x CR Tree: strong vigor, upright appearance, bearing habit on spurs prevalent, self fertility 65.7%, open fertility 81.5%, medium season of flowering. Fruit: large size (55-67 g), oblong shape, cavity depth deep, rounded apex, light orange skin color with intermediate red blush, light orange flesh color, fine texture of flesh, medium firmness, stone shape is oblong, the size is medium to large, non-adherence sweet core, rich aroma, excellent eating quality. Time of ripening: medium, 10 days before Neptun. Highly productive, over 16.5 t/ha. 38

6 t/ha. Augustin : Marculesti 9/5 x Sirena. Tree: intermediate vigor, upright appearance, bearing habit on spurs and one year old shoots, self fertility 47.1%, open fertility 76.3%, medium season of flowering. Fruit: medium/large size ( g), oblong shape, cavity depth deep pointed apex, orange skin color, with intermediate red blush, orange flesh color, intermediate texture of flesh, medium firmness, rich aroma, stone shape is round, the size is medium, non-adherence, sweet core, rich aroma, excellent eating quality. Time of ripening: late (the latest cultivar from apricot cultivated assortment into Romania), 35 days after Neptun. Highly productive, over 17.0 Ceres : NJA 17 x HR9P53. Tree: Intermediate vigor, upright appearance, bearing habit on spurs prevalent and one year old shoots, self fertility 32.0%, time of flowering early; Fruit: medium size (43 to 68.8 g), round, cavity depth deep, rounded apex, orange skin color with intermediate red blush, light orange flesh color, medium firmness, medium texture of flesh, stone round shape, medium percent of weight, non adherence, strong bitter core, rich aroma. Time of ripening: early, 25 days before Neptun, very productive, aver 14 t/ha. Histria : Worley s peach x Sulmona. Tree: medium vigor, upright appearance, bearing habit on spurs and one year old shoots, self fertility 35.0% open fertility 41.8%. Fruit: round shape, medium to large size ( g), orange skin with red blush on half of fruit, orange flesh color, medium firmness, coarse texture of flesh, rich aroma, stone round shape, medium size, lightly adherence of flesh, sweet core. Time of ripening: late, 33 days after Neptun. Very productive, between t/ha. Euxin : R30P62 (H 18/2 x H 17/2) x R41P62 (H 16/7 x H 73/9). Tree: medium vigor, upright appearance, bearing habit on spurs and one year old shoots, self fertility 78.0%; Fruit: medium to large size ( g), round shape, cavity depth, flattened apex, orange skin color the blush red of 1/3 fruit, orange flesh color, medium firmness, fine texture, rich aroma, stone round, nonadherence, medium weight ( g), sweet core, excellent eating quality. Time of ripening: late, 31 days after Neptun. Productive, over 14 t/ha average, in studied period. Traian : Viceroy x N.J.A. 2. Tree: medium vigor, upright appearance, bearing habit more spurs, self sterility (0.3%), open fertility 31.3%, time of flowering early. Fruit: medium size ( g), oblong shape, cavity depth intermediate, round apex orange skin color with intermediate red blush, orange flesh color, medium texture of flesh, medium firmness, oblong stone shape, small to medium size ( g), non adherence, bitter core. Time of ripening: very early 31 days before Neptun. The productivity is small to medium about 9 to 10 tones/ha. 39

7 Tudor : Viveroy x N.J.A.2. Tree: strong vigor, upright appearance, bearing habit on spurs prevalent, self sterility (0.3%), open fertility 30.3%, time of flowering early. Fruit: medium to large size ( g) oblong/rectangular shape, cavity depth intermediate, rounded apex, orange skin color with the blush mostly red in certain years, orange flesh color, firm, fine texture, big stone, oblong shape, non adherence, bitter core. The productivity is good about t/ha. Time of ripening: medium, 5 days before Neptun. All these cultivars were homologated in period, thus in year 1993: Traian and Tudor; year 2003: Auras, Cristal, Danubiu; year 2004: Fortuna, Orizont, Amiral, Augustin; year 2007: Ceres, Euxin, Histria and we promote them for growers every year. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS for financial support in apricot breeding works from Agral Program (Contract no. 3057/2001) and Biotech Program (Contract no. 4646/2004) financed by the Romanian Education and Research Ministry. References Audergon J.M., D. Chauffour, G. Clauzel, J.M. Duffillol, F. Gilles, J.M. Broquaire and L. Esteve, 1999 Apricot breeding in France: 2 new apricot selections for French growers. Acta Hort. 488, Balan Viorica, Elena Topor, 1997 Tradiţii şi perspective în ameliorarea caisului în România. 30 ani de activitate ( ) a Istitutului de Cercetare-Dezvoltare pentru Pomicultură Piteşti volum omagial; Balan V., M. Oprea, S. Drosu, C. Chireceanu, V. Tudor and C. Petrisor, Maintenance of Biodiversity of Apricot Tree Phenotypes in Romania. Acta Hort. 701, Bălan Viorica, Valeria Tudor, Elena Topor, 2007 Apricot Genetics and Breeding in Romania. Acta Horticulturae 760 (vol. Plant Genetic Resources of Horticulturae Crops), pag Bălan Viorica, Valeria Tudor, Elena Topor, Mihaela Corneanu, 2007 Apricot Genetics and Biotechnology in Romania. The European Journal of Plant Science and Biotechnology (Global Science Books), pag Benedikova D., 2006, Apricot Breeding in Slovak Republic for Fruit Quality and Resistance to Disease-New Slovak Apricot Varieties Created by RBS Vesele 2006, Acta Hort., 701, Cociu V., 2006, 50 years of Apricot Breeding in Romania, Act.-Hort. 701, Egea J, L. Burgos, P. Martinez-Gomez and F. Dicenta 1999, Apricot breeding for Sharka resistance at C.E.B.A.S.- C.S.I.C., Murcia-Spania. Acta Hort.488 vol.i, ; Guerriero R., P. Monteleone and C. Iacona, 2006, Apricot breeding in Pisa: Some new Selections for Italian Growers, Acta Hort. 701, Hofstee M.E., M. Malone and C. Howard, 1999 Apricot breeding in New Zealand, Acta Hort. 488, Nicotra A., L. Conte, L. Moser, P. Fantechi, I. Barbagiovanni, M.L. Corazza, S. Vitale and A. Magnotta, 2006 Breding Programme for Monilinia laxa Resistance on Apricot, Acta Hort. 701, Pennone F., 1999 Promising apricot selections obtained by the selection of Caserta of the Instituto Sperimentale per la Frutticoltura of Rome. Acta. Hort 488, Syrgianidis G.D. and C. Mainou-1999, Selection of some promising apricot hybrids resistant to Sharka (Plum pox virus) disease. Acta Hort 488, Topor Elena, Trandafirescu Marioara, 1997 Evaluation of apricot germplasm fund for biological and pomological properties and its use for the breeding programme. Acta Horticulturae, nr. 488, pag Topor Elena and M.C. Burtoiu New Apricot Selections with Very Early Ripening Maturity obtained under Romanian Conditions, 2006, Acta Hort. 701, Topor Elena, Marioara Trandafirescu, Viorica Bălan, 2007 Performance of Romanian Apricot Cultivars. Acta Horticulturae 760 (Plant Genetic Resources of Horticultural Crops), pag Tsoneva E., Apricot breeding programme in Bulgaria New Results Acta Hort. 488, Witherspoon Jennifer M., Apricot breeding in Australia, Acta Hort. 488,

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