Shading and Leaf Age Effects on Total Phenolic Content and Specific Leaf Weight of Apple

in HortScience

The effects of shading and leaf age on the production of foliar phenolics of two apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) cultivars, `Liberty' and `Red Rome Beauty', were studied. Potted trees were grown outdoors and their leaves tagged weekly when they reached 20 mm in length. This process continued for the duration of the experiment. At 3 weeks from budbreak, the trees were placed in three shade treatments: 0% shade (control), 60% shade, and 90% shade. After 5 weeks, the leaves were collected for phenolic assay. Specific leaf weight (SLW) was determined from the leaf below the tagged leaf. Shade significantly affected the total phenolic content. Leaves in 0% shade had the highest levels of total phenolics. The phenolic content decreased with increasing shade, with trees in 90% shade having a 72% reduction in total phenolics. There was a significant shade by leaf age interaction. There was a decrease in total phenolic content with increasing leaf age except for those leaves whose development occurred before the experiment was started. The 1-week-old leaf had the highest phenolic content, while 4-week-old leaf had the lowest amount. The 5- and 6-week-old leaves that had been tagged prior to the onset of the shade treatments has similar phenolic content in all treatment. SLW significantly decreased with increasing shade and increased with leaf age. Results of this study indicate that light and leaf developmental stage are important factors in the total foliar phenolic content, but, once phenolics are synthesized, shading does not affect their content.

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