Nitrogen Partitioning in Apple Trees as Affected by Application Time

in HortTechnology

15Nitrogen-ammonium nitrate was applied to four `Mutsu' apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) trees 40 days before harvest of 1996 (summer supplied nitrogen, SUN) and four others at full bloom in 1997 (spring supplied nitrogen, SPN) to evaluate the effect of application timing on N partitioning in mature trees. At leaf fall the largest amount of SUN was partitioned to roots and 2- to 4-year-old wood; the largest amount of SPN was partitioned to fruit and leaves and only a small amount detected in the roots. SUN did not increase N concentration in fruit or modify fruit firmness and soluble solids concentration, although it contributed to building up N reserves in the perennial woody organs. In 1997, as a result of the different timings of N supply, two sources of labeled N were distinguished and monitored in the vegetative organs: 1) the remobilized N, taken up in summer of 1996, stored in winter and then translocated to the growing tissues; 2) the newly absorbed N, taken up and moved to the canopy after the 1997 spring supply. Both fractions of remobilized and newly uptaken labeled N contributed to leaf and fruit N. Remobilized 15N was provided principally by roots which, from August to leaf fall, decreased their percentage of 15N by ≈18%, replacing the labeled with unlabeled N to maintain a constant concentration of total N.

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