in HortScience

The effect of root pruning on shoot length and water relations of `Bellaire' peach was investigated as a means of controlling vegetative growth. On 27 April, 25 May, and 23 June, 1990, five-year-old trees were root pruned to a 0.35 m depth at either 0.4 or 0.8 m from the tree trunks along both sides of the row. Shoot growth was measured biweekly through the growing season, and the diurnal pattern of stomatal conductance and water potential was followed in late June, July, and August. Stomatal conductance of the root-pruned treatments was less than the control, while there were no differences in water potential among treatments. Reduced shoot elongation was evident within a month of root pruning at 0.4 m for all timing treatments, but at 0.8 m it varied with the date of pruning. The first root pruning at 0.4 m reduced cumulative shoot elongation 39% compared to the un-pruned control trees, while the remaining treatments reduced it 14%. While root pruning limited cumulative shoot elongation in all treatments, the earliest 0.4 m treatment was most effective, possibly due to pruning of a larger percent of the root system prior to rapid shoot elongation. Stomatal closure in root-pruned trees appeared to moderate diurnal water deficits at levels similar to the control.

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