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Challenges and perspectives of new almond cultivars and rootstocks for a sustainable production

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Authors: R. Socias i Company, J. Gómez Aparisi, J.M. Alonso, M.J. Rubio-Cabetas y O. Kodad
Issue: 105-2 (99-116)
Topic: Plant Production
Keywords: Breeding, Prunus amygdalus.

Challenges and perspectives of new almond cultivars and rootstocks for a sustainable production Almond growing in the Mediterranean area has been enduring sharp changes in the last decades. Whereas in some countries, such as Italy, production has substantially decreased, in others, such as Spain, a renewal of almond growing is taking place. In such a situation, new cultivars and rootstock are essential tools to achieve success. Whereas in California ‘Nonpareil’ has been, and continues to be, the essential cultivar, and the new releases represent only a small percentage of the new plantings, the Mediterranean area showed an impressive change with the introduction of ‘Ferragnès’ by Charles Grasselly. An even more important change took place in Spain with the introduction of ‘Guara’ by Antonio J. Felipe. Now, the different breeding programmes aim at the release of late-blooming and self-compatible cultivars, two traits duly accompanied by autogamy and frost resistance, although these objectives not always are completely fulfilled. Most of the cultivars released lately are from Spanish breeding programmes, including those from IRTA, CEBAS, and CITA. In addition, lately only Israel has registered a new cultivar. For rootstocks, the changes have been in the same frame: small in California and sharp in the Mediterranean, where almond x peach hybrids (or hybrids in the other sense) have become the dominant rootstock, both in irrigated and non-irrigated conditions. ‘GF-677’ has been the most utilized rootstock in the past years, with an increasing utilization of new releases, more for the Spanish rootstocks from Aula Dei and the red-leafed and root-knot nematode-resistant CITA rootstocks, than for the Italian ones from the University of Pisa, seeking better management, adaptability to different soil types and resistance to nematodes. New cultivars and rootstocks may improve almond production if they fulfil the requirements of modern fruit growing, as discussed in this revision.

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