Low- and high-K pretreated ‘York Imperial’ apple seedlings (Malus domestica Borkh.) were grown in nutrient solution cultures. Addition of polyethylene glycol (PEG) to the nutrient solution to reduce water potential to −1.0 bar reduced water consumption, fresh weight, specific leaf weight (SLW), and leaf water potential and increased the amount of water consumed per unit of fresh weight gain. High-K pretreatment increased water consumption of unstressed seedlings but decreased water consumption of PEG-stressed plants. Daily sprays with 0.5% KCl applied in early afternoon had no effect on water consumption rate in apple seedlings. However, sprays probably induced wider stomatal opening, since K-sprayed trees had lower leaf water potential when measured at noon than unsprayed trees. This effect was not observed when water potential was measured in the morning (0800 hr). High-K plants had higher leaf water potential than low-K plants in the morning. Potassium pretreatment and PEG stress as well as K-sprays had numerous effects on plant mineral composition. The K-pretreatment or K-sprays did not alleviate the detrimental effects of PEG-induced water stress despite the effects of K-pretreatment and K-sprays on mineral composition and leaf water potential.
Received for publication Oct. 26. 1981.
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Visiting Scientist. Research Institute of Pomology. Skierniewice. Poland.
Soil Scientist and Plant Physiologist, Fruit Laboratory, Horticultural Science Institute.