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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 142: Symposium on Fruit Cultivars in Western Europe

LOCAL VARIETIES OF FRUIT-TREES: PRESERVATION AND APPRAISAL OF THEIR AGRONOMIC CHARACTERS

Author:   E. Leterme
Abstract:
Local varieties of fruit trees in Aquitaine have been the subject of inventories, preservation and horticultural studies since the work started in 1979 in the "Landes de Gascogne", at the Ecomuseum of the "Grande Lande". The horticultural characteristics, evaluation and particularly that of resistance to pests and diseases is executed either at the Ecomuseum or at the arboriculture station of INRA at Angers.

Thanks to its mission of preserving the local patrimony, the Ecomuseum of LA GRANDE LANDE (located in the natural regional park of the Landes de Gascogne), gathers together museological collections of different kinds: personal and real estate, races and varieties of traditional animals and plants.

Research on fruit begun at Bordeaux I in 1979 within the framework of the first year of a PhD Thesis "Space analysis and development" revealed the huge diversity of fruit varieties of peasant origin in this area. Traditionally located around fields (apple and pear trees), in vineyards (cherry and peach trees), or in hawthorn hedges (medlars), these species are now threatened with extinction due to the late economic evolution of the Landes, accompanied by an extension of maize and maritime pine, resulting in the transformation of cultural techniques.

The conservation orchard of the Ecomuseum includes 150 varieties of local apple trees, 50 pear trees and a few varieties of all the other fruit species found in Landes farming units. Most of them have been described neither by pomologists of past centuries nor by INRA.

However, following phenological observations and pest and disease attacks, it appeared that certain varieties of apple trees required a more complete study. Within the framework of the PhD Thesis "Plant Physiology and Pathology" at Bordeaux III, M Bernhard, director of the INRA station of fruit arboriculture at Bordeaux suggested "the study of the characteristics of the local varieties of apple trees of Gascogne Landes".

The horticultural characters of apple trees are described biometrically in nurseries and orchards. The phenology of blooming is studied on the local trees, those of the conservation orchard being too young.

Reaction to pests and diseases is examined as follows:-

  1. Recording aphid and leaf minor attacks in nurseries rather than in orchards.
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