Seedlings of the asparagus cvs Mary Washington (MW) and Syn 4-56 (4-56) were grown at minimum soil matric potentials (SMP) of -0.05, -0.10, and -0.30, -0.50 or -1.5 MPa. Decreases in shoot dry weight leaf area, storage and fibrous root dry weights, and total root and plant dry weight were an exponential function of soil moisture in both cvs. Most of the growth inhibition occurred between the -0.05 and the -0.30 MPa levels of soil moisture, with little further response to SMP drier than -0.30 MPa. Consistent differences between the two cvs, regardless of SMP were apparent in leaf area, shoot dry weight, storage and fibrous root dry weights and root/shoot ratios. MW produced greater leaf area and shoot dry weights than did 4-56 at high SMP and exhibited greater inhibition of shoot dry weight by low SMP than did 4-56. Conversely, 4-56 produced greater storage root dry weight than MW at all SMP., although in mature field-grown plants, 4-56 produced greater fern weight, crown weight and number and stem numbers than MW. Root/shoot ratios generally increased with decreasing SMP. However, the root/shoot ratio of 4-56 was greater than that of MW over the entire range of soil moisture and increased more with decreasing SMP than did MW. Stomatal conductance (gs), fern xylem potential (), and net C02 assimilation rates decreased with decreasing SMP in a similar manner in both cvs. were
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