The basic conditions of fruit set (synchronic bloom, transfer of pollen, etc.) still do decide definitely the fate of the flower (Cano-Medrano & Darnell, 1998) in spite of the best weather conditions (Stösser, 2002). Beyond a set quantity of fruits, the tree is unable to bring up larger load. A system of autoregulation works in the background... and causes the drop of a fraction of fruits in spite of the accomplished fertilisation and the equality of physiological precedents (Soltész, 1997). There are also basically genetic agents in action. The further development of fruits maintained on the tree depends mainly on the growing conditions (e.g. water, supply of nutrients, weather adversities, pruning, fruit thinning, biotic damages, etc.), which may cause on their own turn fruit drop especially at the time of approaching maturity.
Budbreak anomalies in temperate fruit trees grown under mild conditions have often been described. However, only few authors approached the physiological evolution of leaf buds all along the dormancy period according to the temperature pattern. The aim of this study was to characterize the evolution of peach leaf bud dormancy through some physiolo...gical and biochemical parameters under temperate winter conditions and under total cold deprivation after the endodormancy onset. Two treatments were applied in peach trees cv. Redhaven: (i) Regular Chilling Amounts — RCA and (ii) Total Chilling Deprivation — TCD. Buds were sampled periodically from different parts of the stem (terminal, medium and basal ones). We recorded the evolution of: carbohydrate concentrations (glucose, fructose, sucrose, sorbitol and starch), respiration rate, water contents and energy metabolism (ATP and ADP ratio). The dynamics of these parameters were compared and correlated with dormancy evolution ("one node cuttings" test) and budbreak patterns in plank:. The endodormancy intensity of terminal buds was significantly lower than those of median and basal buds in early October. Under RCA treatment, this gradient faded and the bud endodormancy release was completed at the same time in all positions along the stem. Thereafter, the "cuttings" test indicated that terminal buds grew slightly faster than median and basal buds, and, consistently, budbreak in planta started with the terminals buds, followed by the medians and then by the basal ones. The carbohydrate contents showed a transitory change only when the buds began to grow after the endodormancy was released under RCA. Respiration, water content and ATP/ADP changed dynamics only under RCA and only after the end of the endodormancy (their respective changes were very parallel). The dynamics of none of the tested parameters could be related with the endodormancy dynamics, but respiration, water content and ATP/ADP could be consistent markers of the actual bud growth before bud break (in this respect, ATP/ADP could not show differences between the terminal and axillary buds while respiration and water content could).