Leaf Nutrition and Soil Nutrients Are Affected by Irrigation Frequency and Method for NP-Fertigated `Gala' Apple

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Research Centre, Summerland, B. C. VOH 1ZO, Canada

`Gala' apple (Malus domestica Borkh) on M.26 rootstock was subjected, in the first five growing seasons, to NP-fertigation and a factorial combination of treatments involving method and frequency of irrigation. Two types of emitters (drip or microjet) were used to apply the same quantity of water at high (daily), intermediate (about weekly) and low (about bi-weekly) irrigation frequencies. Although initial tree vigor and yield were higher for drip-fertigated trees, by the end of the study microjet fertigation produced larger trees of similar yield. These microjet fertigated trees had higher leaf P, K and Cu but lower leaf N, Mg, and Mn than drip-fertigated trees. Soil pH and extractable Mg and K concentrations were higher and extractable-P concentrations lower directly beneath microjet-emitters as a result of the larger fertigated soil volume relative to drip-emitters. High frequency irrigation improved tree growth but had less effect on leaf nutrient concentrations or soil chemical changes than lower frequency irrigation. Leaf N concentration was most affected by irrigation frequency, tending to decrease with daily irrigation.

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