Relationship between Fruiting, Specific Leaf Weight, and Subsequent Spur Productivity in Walnut

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Department of Pomology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616

Localized and carry-over effects of light exposure [as inferred from specific leaf weight (SLW)] on spur viability, flowering, and fruit set were monitored in selected spurs throughout walnut (Juglans regia, cvs. Serr and Hartley) tree canopies. Shaded spurs (i.e., average SLW <4 mg·cm-2) were predisposed to die during the winter, and spur mortality was accentuated among spurs that had borne fruit that season. More catkins and distillate flowers per spur were characteristic of the more exposed positions within the canopy (as indicated by SLW) during the previous summer and following an “off” year. In exposed `Serr' canopy positions (SLW >5 mg·cm-2), catkin and Pistillate flower maturation was reduced in fruiting spurs by 60% and 30%, respectively, in the subsequent year relative to vegetative spurs. In `Hartley', the number of distillate flowers was also reduced by 35% on spurs that fruited the previous year relative to spurs that had been vegetative. Maximum rates of return bloom and fruit set were evident in spurs exhibiting the highest SLW and N per unit leaf area (NA), specific to each cultivar. Among spurs of both cultivars, distillate flower development was more sensitive to shading in the previous season than was catkin development. Shell weight of `Serr' varied positively with SLW, but kernel weight, fruit N, and oil concentration did not vary “with SLW in either cultivar.

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