Response of Young Olive Plants (Olea europaea) to Phosphorus Application

in HortScience

Mist-rooted ‘Picual’ olive cuttings growing in 1.1-L pots containing a mixture of washed sand and perlite were used to induce symptoms of phosphorus (P) deficiency and toxicity and to determine the nutritional status to which these symptoms occur. Plants were growing in a growth chamber at 25 °C day/15 °C night with a 14-hour photoperiod. From late spring to the autumn, plants were placed in a shade house protected from the rain. In the first experiment, plants received the application of 0, 100, 200, or 400 ppm P, and in the second experiment, 0, 12.5, 25, 50, 100, or 200 ppm P. Shoot growth was measured weekly and leaf samples were collected at different dates to determine P concentration. At the end of each experiment, plants were harvested and P was determined to obtain the P uptake by the plants. Phosphorus uptake efficiency (PUE) was estimated as PUE = (P uptake/P applied) × 100. P content increased in plants with the amount of P applied, and accumulated mainly in the roots. Vegetative growth showed a quadratic response, indicating a reduction of growth at the lowers and highest doses of P application. Leaf P concentration below or above which shoot growth was reduced was 0.11% to 0.13%. Symptoms of P deficiency and toxicity were observed in only a few plants. Leaf P concentration of deficient plants was 0.025%, and that of toxicity 0.21%. Toxicity symptoms were similar to that of zinc (Zn) deficiency. PUE was very low, 1.34% to 4.45%, suggesting the low P requirements of the olive.

Contributor Notes

This research was supported by the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, Spain, Project No. AGL2011-25752; Junta de Andalucía, Spain, Project of Excellence P11-AGR-7835; and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Corresponding author. E-mail: rfernandezescobar@uco.es.

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    Phosphorus (P) partitioning into olive trees related to the amount of P applied. Vertical bars represent the standard error of the means.

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    Accumulated vegetative growth and leaf phosphorus (P) concentration according to the P applied. Vertical bars represent the standard error of the means.

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    (A) Phosphorus (P) deficiency symptoms in olive leaves and (B) P toxicity symptoms in olive leaves, similar to symptoms of zinc deficiency.

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    Phosphorus uptake efficiency (PUE) related to the amount of phosphorus applied. Vertical bars represent the standard error of the means.

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