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Chokecherries (Prunus virginiana L.) are native to North America and are well adapted to Utah's climate and soils. The fruit is commonly collected from the wild for home and small-scale commercial processing, but there is currently no commercial fruit production in the U.S. A major component of Utah's fruit industry is based on mechanization and fruit processing, both of which are necessary for chokecherry commercialization
Chokecherry production could provide an important diversification opportunity, but is currently limited by lack of suitable varieties and efficient propagation practices. Experiments have been conducted at USU to find optimum seed germination conditions, and to optimize propagation techniques. Seeds from the Intermountain West were cleaned and then subjected to one of 12 different treatment regimens. From these it was determined that optimum seed germination occurred after seeds were stratified (stored at three degrees celsius) for 16 weeks. Two chokecherry varieties were established in tissue culture and media components are being compared to optimize growth. Growth in tissue culture is best with sucrose as the carbon source, but optimum hormone levels differ with variety.
The results of these studies will be used to propagate new fruiting varieties for use as an alternative fruit crop in Utah. This project is funded by the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station, the Utah Botanical Center, and an Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities (URCO) grant.
Laura R. Wright , Ronald L. Moshier Scholar , Santaquin, UT
Brent Black, Faculty Mentor, Plants, Soils, and Climate