Gypsum Effects on Growth and Macroelement Uptake of Field-grown Asimina triloba (Pawpaw) Irrigated with Low-saline, Sodic Water

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  • 1 Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003
  • | 2 Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Calhoun Research Station, Box 539, Calhoun, LA 71225
  • | 3 Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003

Asimina triloba (L.) Dunal is an underused tree species with demonstrated potential as a new fruit crop and landscape ornamental plant. Best management practices for A. triloba are not adequately defined, particularly for field establishment in high-Na conditions characteristic of numerous southern U.S. production areas. We evaluated the growth and net macroelement uptake of field-grown A. triloba seedlings on soil amended with a single addition of gypsum at 0, 7.5, or 15.0 t·ha-1 and later receiving a regular supply of Na-affected but nonsaline irrigation water [sodium adsorption ratio (SAR) of 15.5 and electrical conductivity (EC) at 0.4 dS·m-1]. Over two growing seasons, the soil saturation extract Ca concentration increased while the soil saturation extract SAR decreased with increasing gypsum rate. Amending the soil with gypsum increased total lateral branch extension per tree by 60% to 73% and trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA) per tree by 68% to 87% above a non-gypsum-amended control treatment. Total dry matter accumulation and the net uptake of N, P, and K per tree were over 100% greater following gypsum application as compared to controls. The growth and mineral uptake-enhancing effects of gypsum were likely related to functions of Ca at the root level and on soil physical properties that should be considered in establishing young A. triloba trees with irrigation water containing high sodicity but relatively low total salinity.

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