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Freezing tolerance of Opuntia spp

Valdez-Cepeda, R.D., Blanco-Macías, F., Salinas-García, G., Vázquez-Alvarado, R., Gallegos-Vázquez, C.
Acta horticulturae 2002 no.581 pp. 177-183
Opuntia, abiotic stress, cactus pears, cladodes, cold, crops, freezing, frost, frost resistance, fruit growing, germplasm, germplasm conservation, orchards, temperature, Chihuahuan Desert, Mexico
Frost is a serious abiotic stress affecting crops in the Chihuahuan desert. A frost occurred incidentally in 11-14 December 1997, and caused serious injuries in the Opuntia spp. commercial orchards for nochtli, tuna or cactus pear fruit production in the Mexico’s State of Zacatecas and at the “Centro Regional Universitario of the Universidad Autónoma Chapingo germplasm collection”. In a set of 73 taxonomic varieties (five plants each) of Opuntia spp. from such germplasm bank an evaluation of resistance to freezing was carried out. The percent of dead cladodes (%DC) in each plant, as experimental unit, was the variable under study. As a result, data of μ ± σ of %DC are presented and discussed. The varieties “Tapón Aguanoso” and “Duraznillo” were not affected by freezing; “Amarilla CE”, “Amarilla SM”, “Morada SM”, “Camuezo” and “Zarquita” were only mildly affected (0-10 %DC), i.e. these varieties (together with “Tapón Aguanoso” and “Duraznillo”) showed the highest values of cold hardiness related to the plant's ability to withstand cold temperatures without serious injury. All other varieties were seriously affected with Copena varieties showing the greatest damage. These findings are useful on crop research and improvement programs processed on Opuntia spp. freezing tolerance.