Regulation of flowering time in almond, as in other Prunus species, is a complex process involving both chill and heat requirements. Following exposure to appropriate consecutive periods of cold and warm temperatures, the buds break dormancy and sprout or flower depending on bud type. To maximize flowering and subsequent vegetative growth and fruit set, chilling and ensuing warm temperature requirements have to be fully satisfied. Because of its potential for very early flowering, flowering time in almond is a major determinant of its adaptation to new environments. In colder regions, Late-flowering is often necessary to avoid frost damage during and just after flowering. Consequently, the selection of delayed flowering times remains an important objective in almond improvement programs. Flowering time is considered a quantitative though highly heritable trait. In addition, a dominant gene (Late flowering, Lb), originally identified in a spontaneous mutation of the Californian almond cultivar ‘Nonpareil’, was also described. The objective of this review is a comparative analysis of the effects of regional adaptation, breeding and mutation on the delay of flowering time in new almond cultivars. Findings indicate that the adaptation of almonds from the Mediterranean basin to colder regions in Northern Europe and America has been mainly achieved through delayed flowering. These adapted late-flowering cultivars have usually been developed by selecting desired quantitative genes within each regional germplasm. Additional progress thus appears achievable with a more comprehensive understanding of the quantitative and qualitative genetics controlling this trait. The use of molecular markers for the early selection of genes conferring late flowering, including both spontaneous mutations as well as unique regional germplasm, should allow development of even later cultivars including ultra-late cultivars flowering as into April.
Euphytica – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 1, 2017
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