Nitrogen Uptake Efficiency and Leaching Losses from Lysimeter-grown Citrus Trees Fertilized at Three Nitrogen Rates

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Citrus Research and Education Center, 700 Experiment Station Road, Lake Alfred, FL 33850

Four-year-old `Redblush' grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macf.) trees on either the relatively fast-growing rootstock `Volkamer' lemon (VL) (C. volkameriana Ten. & Pasq.) or on the slower-growing rootstock sour orange (SO) (C. aurantium L.) were transplanted into 7.9-m3 drainage lysimeter tanks filled with native Candler sand, irrigated similarly, and fertilized at three N rates during 2.5 years. After 6 months, effects of N application rate and rootstock on tree growth, evapotranspiration, fruit yield, N uptake, and leaching were measured during the following 2 years. When trees were 5 years old, low, medium, and high N application rates averaged about 79,180, or 543 g N/tree per year and about 126,455, or 868 g N/tree during the following year. Recommended rates average about 558 g N/tree per year. A lysimeter tank with no tree and additional trees growing outside lysimeters received the medium N treatment. Nitrogen concentration in the drainage water increased with N rate and exceeded 10 mg·liter-1 for trees receiving the high rates and also for the no tree tank. Leachate N concentration and total N recovered was greater from trees on SO than from those on VL. Average N uptake efficiency of medium N rate trees on VL was 6870 of the applied N and 61 % for trees on SO. Nitrogen uptake efficiency decreased with increased N application rates. Trees outside lysimeters had lower leaf N and fruit yield than lysimeter trees. Overall, canopy volume and leaf N concentration increased with N rate, but there was no effect of N rate on fibrous root dry weight. Fruit yield of trees on SO was not affected by N rate but higher N resulted in greater yield for trees on VL. Rootstock had no effect on leaf N concentration, but trees on VI. developed larger canopies, had greater fibrous root dry weight, used more water, and yielded more fruit than trees on SO. Based on growth, fruit yield and N leaching losses, currently recommended N rates were appropriate for trees on the more vigorous VL rootstock but were 22% to 69 % too high for trees on SO.

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