430 PB 171 LEAF NITRATE AND AMMONIUM CONCENTRATIONS ARE MORE SENSITIVE INDICATORS OF SOIL N AVAILABILITY THAN TOTAL N IN NECTARINE

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  • 1 Department of Pomology, University of California Davis CA 95616

Leaf N concentrations (% dry wt) appear relatively insensitive to high levels of applied fertilizer N (Weinbaum et al, HortTechnology 1992). This insensitivity may be attributable to growth dilation, lack of additional tree N uptake, a finite capacity of leaves to accumulate additional N or our inhability to resolve a limited increment. Our objective was to asses the relative accumulation of mobile forms of N (NO3, NH4 and amino acids) relative to a total N over a range of fertilizer N application rates in 3 year old, field-grown “Fantasia” nectarine trees. Between 0 and 136 Kg N/Ha/Yr we observed a linear relationship between N supply and all N fractions. Above 136 Kg N/Ha/Yr leaf concentrations of amino acids and total N remined constant, but NO3 and NH4 accumulation continued. These results suggest that leaf concentration of NO3 and NH4 are more sensitive indicators of soil N availability and tree N uptake than was total leaf N concentration.

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