Calcium Influences Growth and Leaf Mineral Concentration of Citrus under Saline Conditions

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  • 1 Citrus Research and Education Center, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, 700 Experiment Station Road, Lake Alfred, FL 33850

We determined whether the ability of sour orange seedlings to withstand saline irrigation water could be improved by the addition of calcium to the water. Sour orange (Citrus aurantium L.) seedlings were treated for 4 months with a nutrient solution containing either no NaCl, 40 mm NaCI, or 40 mm NaCl plus various concentrations of CaSO4, CaCl2, or KCl. After 4 months, the NaCl alone reduced root and shoot dry weights by ≈ 30% with no leaf necrosis. Addition of 1, 5, or 7.5 mm CaSO4 to solutions containing 40 mm NaCl significantly inhibited the NaCl-induced reductions in shoot dry weight. Addition of 7.5 mm CaCl2 or 7 mm KCl to the NaCl solution reduced leaf Na, but increased Cl to the toxicity level; hence, growth was not improved. The beneficial effect of CaSO4 was mainly attributed to a reduction in the accumulation of Na and Cl below the toxicity level in the leaves (0.4% and 0.5%, respectively) without a major increase in total dissolved salts. This study demonstrated that the beneficial effect of adding Ca depended on the anion associated with the Ca salt. Calcium sulfate, but not CaCl2, was able to overcome the damaging effect of NaCl to sour orange seedlings.

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