Interaction of Root Confinement and Fruiting in Peach

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Ecole Nationale Superieure D'Horticulture, 4 Rue Hardy, RP 914, 78009, Versailles, Cedex, France
  • | 2 Department of Horticulture, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602
  • | 3 U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Russell Research Center, Athens, GA 30613
  • | 4 Laboratoire d'Arboriculture fruitère, Ecole Nationale Supèrieure Agronomique, 2, place Pierre Viala, 34060 Montpellier Cedex 1, France

Fruiting and nonfruiting `Washington' peach trees were grown in 2.4 (small) or 9-liter (large) containers to determine the influence of root confinement and fruiting on vegetative growth, fruit growth and quality, CO, assimilation (A), and carbohydrate content. Shoot length, fruit diameter, A, and leaf carbohydrates were measured weekly. Thirteen weeks after transplanting, trees were divided into roots, shoots, leaves, and fruit for dry weight measurement. The dry weight of all organs except fruit was reduced by root confinement, and only the weight of stems formed the previous season was not reduced by fruiting. Fruit dry weight was 30.0 g/tree for large- and small-container treatments, causing the yield efficiency (g fruit/g total dry wt) to be 50% higher for confined trees. Fruit red color, weight, and diameter were unaffected by root confinement, but higher flesh firmness and a more green ground color of the fruit surface from root-confined trees suggested that confinement delayed maturity. Vegetative growth was not reduced by lack of nonstructural carbohydrates in confined trees. A was reduced by root confinement on only the first of 11 measurement dates, whereas fruiting increased A on 5 of 8 measurement dates before fruit harvest. Fruit removal reduced A by 23% and 31% for nonconfined and confined trees, respectively, within 48 h of harvest. Leaf starch, sucrose, sorbitol, and total carbohydrate levels were negatively correlated with A when data were pooled, but inconsistent responses of A to carbohydrate content indicated that factors other than feedback inhibition were also responsible for the reduction in A on nonfruited trees. We hypothesized that a physiological signal originating in roots of confined trees reduced vegetativegrowth without reducing fruit growth.

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