The Relationship Between Leaf Area and Light Interception by Spur and Extension Shoot Leaves and Apple Orchard Productivity

in HortScience

The study evaluated the relationship of spur vs. extension shoot leaf area and light interception to apple (Malus {XtimesX}domesticaBorkh.) orchard productivity. Fifteen-year-old `Marshall McIntosh'/M.9 trees had significantly greater leaf area and percentage of light interception at 3-5 and 10-12 weeks after full bloom (AFB) than did 4-year-old `Jonagold'/Mark trees. Despite significant increases in leaf area and light interception with canopy development, linear relationships between total, spur, and extension shoot canopy leaf area index (LAI) and 1) light interception and 2) fruit yield were similar at both times. Mean total and spur canopy LAI and light interception were significantly and positively correlated with fruit yield; however, extension shoot LAI and light interception were poorly correlated with yield. In another study total, spur and extension shoot canopy light interception varied widely in five apple production systems: 15-year-old central leader `Redchief Delicious' MM.111, 15-year-old central leader `Redchief Delicious' MM.111/M.9, 16-year-old slender spindle `Marshall McIntosh' M.9, 14-year-old `Jerseymac' M.9 on 4-wire trellis, and 17-year-old slender spindle `MacSpur' M.9. Yields in these orchards were curvilinearly related to total and extension shoot canopy light interception and decreased when total light interception exceeded 60% and extension shoot interception exceeded 25%. Fruit yields were linearly and highly correlated (r2 = 0.78) with spur light interception. The findings support the hypothesis that fruit yields of healthy apple orchards are better correlated with LAI and light interception by spurs than by extension shoots. The results emphasize the importance of open, well-illuminated, spur-rich tree canopies for high productivity.

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Contributor Notes

To whom requests for reprints should be addressed. Tel.: +64-3-528 9106; Fax: +64-3-528 7813. E-mail address: jwunsche@hort.cri.nz
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