Mineral Nutrient Balance and Impairment of the Nitrate-reducing System in Alternate-bearing ‘Wilking’ Mandarin Trees

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Authors:
Avinoam GolombDivision of Citriculture, Agricultural Research Organization, Volcani Center, Bet Dagan, Israel

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Eliezer E. GoldschmidtDepartment of Horticulture, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel

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Abstract

Two alternate-bearing ‘Wilking’ mandarin (Citrus reticulata Blanco) trees, an “on” and an “off” tree, were uprooted and dissected into 11 organ types during the time of fruit maturation (February). Total or water-soluble N, P, K, Ca, and Mg (nitrate for soluble N) content were determined for each organ. Calcium was separated further into water-soluble, exchangeable, insoluble, and oxalate fractions. Leaves and twigs of on trees had reduced N, P, and particularly K levels. Organs of on trees, including minor roots and fruit, contained increased nitrate levels. Leaves, twigs, and minor roots of on trees accumulated Ca, mainly as Ca oxalate. The amounts of N, P, and K present in the fruit represented 32.2%, 43.7%, and 57.8%, respectively, of the total for an on tree. Fruit were very low in Ca, containing only 6% of the tree total. A 15-month follow-up of seasonal fluctuations in minerals of on and off ‘Wilking’ trees showed that the mineral composition of leaves and twigs was rapidly changed by the presence or absence of fruit. Defruiting in July prevented mineral depletion and permitted reasonable flower-bud differentiation on subsequent year. Leaf disks of on trees had low initial nitrate–reductase activity but responded weakly to nitrate induction. Leaves of overloaded on trees appear to suffer from a metabolic disorder involving relatively high nitrate levels, Ca accumulation, and loss of the nitrate–reductase induction response.

Contributor Notes

Received for publication 4 Feb. 1985. The expert technical assistance of D. Reinharz, Zehava Sharon, Y. Costo, M. Simchi, and D. Galili is gratefully acknowledged. The cost of publishing this paper was defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. Under postal regulations, this paper therefore must be hereby marked advertisement solely to indicate this fact.

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