Cherry rootstock breeding started at the Department of Fruit Science, SSU Budapest by the late 50-s and the activity can be divided into three main groups. In the first stage the activity was focused on collection of native mahaleb cherry (Prunus mahaleb L.) varieties lead by L. Sebők. After evaluation in the nursery and orchard tests... there are four promising rootstock cultivars selected from this material: 'Korponay' used as self fertile seed tree, its seedlings are recommended for sour cherries. The mahaleb varieties 'Bogdány' (vigorous), 'Egervár' and 'Magyar' (medium vigour) are propagated by cuttings. The next project has started in 1979 with the aim to select self fertile mahaleb seed trees producing homogeneous seedling populations with reduced vigour. Inbred populations from isolated flowering self fertile trees were produced and planted out in 1980. The inbreeding of 'Korponay' self fertile P. mahaleb variety resulted in specimens with different fruit colour (yellow, red, black), fruit shape and size. From among them self fertile trees were selected with various growth characteristics. Seedlings of that self fertile mother trees (S2 population) were tested in seedbed, they showed homogeneous phenotype characteristics as liners in the nursery. As rootstock of 'Érdi bőtermő' sour cherry in the orchard most of the S2 lines proved to be less vigorous in comparison to SI popuplations. 'Érdi bőtermő' trees budded on certain S2 lines in the orchard are more productive than those on S1 ('Korponay' seedling). Characteristics of the S2 generation as seed tree were studied as well. We expect to get morphologically homogeneous seedling populations with different growth vigour and good productivity in the later inbred generations. In the last couple of decades the research activity concerning ground-cherry and its hybrids resulted in dwarfing rootstocks. Prunus fruticosa Pall. hybrids from the natural flora of Hungary were collected and artificial hybrids were created between P. fruticosa and mahaleb cherry. Most of them are in the initial tests, only one of them is before registration, named 'Prob', which is a dwarf rootstock for sweet cherry. By the screening of new hybrids medium vigorous or semi dwarfing and precocious rootstocks seem to be promising for the cherry industry.
During 2000 and 2007, rootstocks of different vigor have been tested in a high density sweet cherry orchard with 'Vera '® and 'Axel'® cultivars at 4 x 2 meter row and plant distance. Trees are trained to Hungarian Spindle with permanent basal branches; in the alley way naturally grown grass is managed by mowing. The first considerable fruitin...g was in 2004. Every year we measured trunk and canopy parameters of the trees, productivity and fruit size. Our conclusion is that the rootstocks considerably affected the growth, precocity, as well as tree and orchard productivity, fruit weight of sweet cherry cultivars, but these rootstock effects are modified by cultivars, except for growth vigor. According to our results Cema, SL 64, and Bogdany are vigorous rootstocks, moderate vigorous are MaxMa 97, Pi-Ku I , and Tabel® Edabriz, Gisela® 5 and Prob are dwarfing rootstocks. Besides the precocious Gisela® 5 also mahaleb rootstocks CEMA, Bogdany and SL 64 showed considerable precocity, which can be explained by the larger bearing surface to the time of turning to bearing, and a similar or relative large density of burse shoots on fruiting branches. Cumulative yield of 'Axel'® was the highest on Bogdany and on Cerna, contrary to Gisela® 5, which produced only 50% of the previous ones. Cumulative yield of 'Vera'® was the highest on SL 64, and no significant difference was found, compared to trees on rootstocks Cema, Bogdany and Pi-Ku I . Cumulative yield production of trees was smaller on Gisela® 5, Prob, Max Ma 97 and Tabel® Edabriz rootstocks. Corresponding to the literature data of yield efficiency calculated on TCSA basis was highest on Gisela® 5 rootstock. but the efficiency calculated on canopy volume of 'Axel•® trees was similarly high on CEMA and Bogdany, and that of 'Vera'® trees relatively high on CEMA, Bogdany, SL 64 and PiKu I rootstocks. When calculating orchard efficiency al spacing 4 x 2 meters (1250 tree/ha), we received highest yield values on Bogdany, CEMA, SL 64, and PiKu I rootstocks, with large fruit weight. Rootstocks also affect fruit weight. We measured the largest fruit weight on trees on Bogdany.
The paper gives a review on the results of the latest rootstock evaluation projects in Hungary. Several cherry rootstock evaluation projects were carried out in Hungary during the last two decades. The evaluated rootstocks are partly mahalebs selected in Hungary, but more or less all the most important new rootstocks from different countries ar...e involved. The aim of these evaluation projects was to find appropriate rootstocks in a wide range of vigour for our climate and soil conditions. The conclusion of the last 20 years of research in Hungary proved just the opposite of believes, that high density orchard can only be planted with dwarfing rootstocks. Before choosing the right rootstock the most important is to consider adaptability, precocity and productivity. Dwarfing and semi-dwarfing rootstocks showed proper results only with irrigation or very good site conditions. These rootstocks are very precocious, but branches form easily blindwood. This must be corrected by severe pruning in the first years. The relatively small leaf surface area can also be disadvantageous, but it can be controlled by pruning, fruit-thinning, irrigation and fertilization. After studying different rootstocks semi-vigorous rootstocks seem to be the most adequate for different site conditions in Hungary. Fast initial growing and competent precocity are their favourable characters. From the vigorous group of clonal mahalebs or seedlings are highly recommended first of all for poor site condition (sandy, lime soils with high pH). They turn to bearing early and easy to find them in the Hungarian nurseries. But on vigorous rootstocks trees might need stronger summer pruning.
The modern nursery industry requires seed sources of a high quality and regular quantity year by year. Besides the seed sources of processed cultivars (Bartlett pear, Shipley, Elberta peach) special seed orchards are planted with selected seed trees producing high quality and genetically determined seed (hybrid seed or inbred lines). Seedlings...are still the most common commercial source of rootstocks for stone fruits (almond, apricot, peach, plum, prune and walnut). Although clonal rootstocks are spreading, usage of seedlings is still predominant at stone fruits and nuts. For successful seed production and planning of seed orchard the knowledge on floral biology, flower fertility, pollination, blossom time of trees (selected clone or cultivars) used for seed production is essential. In this field very little systematic research was carried out most of the papers were published in the second half of the 20th century. Our mini review gives an overview on the importance of flower fertility in the mating systems applied in seed orchards, and the research results on floral biology of fruit tree rootstocks propagated by seed (Prunus avium, Prunus mahaleb, Prunus armeniaca, Prunus cerasifera, Prunus insititia, Prunus amygdalus, P persica, P amygdalopersica, Pyrus pyraster, Pyrus communis and Pyrus betulifolia) over the last decades.