Effects of Root Zone Temperature on the Kinetics of Nitrogen Uptake of Non-bearing Apple Trees

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  • 1 1Dipartimento di Colture Arboree, Università di Bologna, via Filippo Re, 6, 40126, Bologna, Italy
  • | 2 2Dept. of Horticulture, Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI 48824

Low root-zone temperature is one of the potential causes of low rate of plant nutrient uptake in spring. In this period, fruit trees are frequently supplied with nitrogen and a delay in root absorption could lead to an increase of nitrate leaching. In this study we assessed the effect of low root temperature on kinetic of nitrogen absorption of apple trees. One-year-old rooted cuttings of `Mark' apple rootstocks were subjected to two root temperature: 8 ± 1°C (LT) and 23 ± 1°C (HT). Four days after treatment imposition, the potted plants were supplied with 20 mg of N as NH4N03, enriched with 10 atom% of 15N. One, 2, 4, and 8 days after fertilization, tree root system was inserted into a Sholander bomb where a 0.325-Mpa pressure was applied to collect the xylem sap from the stem cross section. The sap exudation rate was always depressed by low root temperature. Nitrogen flow through the xylem vessel was highest in HT plants the day after fertilization (10-fold higher than LT), then decreased constantly. In LT plants, N flow was low the first and the second day after fertilization then reached the maximum 4 days after fertilization, when it was significantly higher than in HT plants. The amount of fertilizer-N found in leaves reflected the different movement rate of N observed in the two treatments. In HT trees fertilizer-N reached a plateau 2 days after fertilization, while in LT it linearly increased over time. This results suggest that root zone temperature of 8°C, although causes a delay (2–4 days) in nitrogen uptake, does not represent a serious limiting factor for N nutrition of tested apple trees.

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