A field experiment was conducted from 1996 to 1998 to examine the effects of K fertilization on leaf K, nut yield, and quality in pistachio (Pistacia vera L.). There were six treatments, including four annual rates of K application (0, 110, 220, and 330 kg·ha-1) and three K sources (K2SO4, KCl, and KNO3). Pistachio trees exhibited highly fluctuating seasonal leaf K levels. Leaf K concentration was low (<10 g·kg-1) during spring flush, increased dramatically during fruit development, and declined rapidly after harvest. Leaf K concentration increased following K fertilization. Potassium fertilization at the rate of 110 to 220 kg·ha-1 K significantly increased nut yield and quality, but nut yield tended to decrease when the annual rate exceeded 220 kg·ha-1 K. There were no significant differences among the K sources in their effects on leaf K concentration, nut yield, and quality. The use of KCl as a K source for 3 years did not increase leaf Cl concentration. There was a significant, positive correlation between nut yield and leaf K concentration during nut fill. The critical leaf K value for optimal pistachio production determined from 3 years' cumulative data was 16.9 g·kg-1. For sustained production in highly productive pistachio orchards, we recommend annual application rates of 110 to 220 kg·ha-1 K, using K2SO4, KCl, or KNO3.
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