Influence of rootstock on branching and flowering habit of 2-year-old 'Bing' sweet cherry branches in two warm climates in South Africa
Four-year-old 'Bing' sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) trees grafted on 'Gisela® 5' (Gi 5) and 'Mahaleb' (Mah) rootstocks in commercial orchards in the Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Free State regions of South Africa were used to characterize the influence of rootstock and location on flowering and vegetative growth. Lateral shoots, spurs, flowers and fruit set on 2-year-old branches differed between both rootstock and location. 'Bing' on Gi 5 developed significantly more flower buds and reproductive spurs than on Mah at both sites. More flowers developed proximally on year-old shoots of trees on Gi 5. Only trees on Gi 5 set a crop. Trees on both Gi 5 and Mah in the Eastern Free State, compared to Kwazulu-Natal, had more and longer lateral shoots on the 2-year-old branch section as well as a higher fruit set, thus indicating an effect of low-chilling location on branch architecture and fruiting independent of rootstock.