The walnut rootstock ‘Paradox’ (Juglans hindsii × J. regia) is susceptible to Agrobacterium tumefaciens, which often results in a high incidence of crown gall in nursery or walnut production orchards. Though A. tumefaciens is susceptible to the commonly used preplant soil fumigants, crown gall incidence can rise above acceptable levels. We examined the ability of Paradox seed to acquire A. tumefaciens as a function of harvest method used prior to planting. Over a 2-year period at two participating commercial nurseries, Paradox seed were collected directly from the mother tree without contacting the soil or gathered after sitting on the orchard floor for up to 28 days. A. tumefaciens was never detected in or on the 2,650 seeds collected directly from the mother tree. Both virulent and avirulent A. tumefaciens strains were detected in and on the husk of nuts incubated on the orchard floor at a frequency directly proportional to the time spent on the orchard floor. Regardless of A. tumefaciens contamination in or on the husk, A. tumefaciens was never detected in the seed interior. Avoiding soilborne populations of A. tumefaciens at the time of seed collection will play an important role in managing crown gall.
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