Atypical Symptoms of Cold Damage to Pecan

in HortScience

Bearing pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] trees overly stressed by crop load and premature autumn defoliation either died or were severely damaged by -3°C in mid-November. Orchard damage was associated with death of tree roots during the dormant season. Exposure of stressed trees to -5°C in mid-March produced an atypical, but distinct, bottom-to-top-of-canopy gradient in bud death and reduced growth of shoots and foliage that was consistent with the pattern of reduced carbohydrate reserves of associated support shoots. Additionally, the foliage of damaged trees contained higher concentrations of N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Mn, Fe, and B. Trees did not exhibit traditional symptoms of cold damage, thus these findings extend cold injury diagnostic criteria to include both root and tree death during the dormant season and also a distinct gradient in shoot death during early spring. Damage by cold appears to be preventable by avoiding excessive tree stress due to overcropping and premature defoliation.

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