Drought Response of Young Apple Trees on Three Rootstocks: Growth and Development

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1325

`Imperial Gala' apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) trees, trained to two shoots, on M.9 EMLA, MM.111, and Mark rootstocks were subjected to two drought-stress and recovery periods in a rainshelter. Leaf growth rate, leaf area, leaf emergence, shoot length, and trunk cross-sectional area were measured during each stress and recovery period. Leaf growth rate was reduced during both stress periods but most consistently during the second drought stress. Length of the less-vigorous shoot was reduced most consistently due to drought stress but did not recover upon irrigation. Leaf emergence and trunk cross-sectional area increment were inconsistent in response to stress. Tree growth was reduced by drought stress to the greatest extent for trees on Mark, with MM.111 intermediate and M.9 EMLA least affected. At termination, the plants were separated into roots, current-season shoot growth, previous-season shoot growth, and rootstock, and dry weights were measured. Dry weights confirmed the growth measurements taken during the experiment with a 16%, 27%, and 34% reduction in total plant dry weight for drought-stressed trees on M.9 EMLA, MM.111, and Mark, respectively, compared to corresponding controls. It was concluded that Mark was the most sensitive of the three rootstocks followed by MM.111; M.9 EMLA was the most drought resistant.

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