Fall Foliar-applied Boron Increases Tissue Boron Concentration and Nut Set of Almond

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Department of Pomology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616
  • | 2 Cooperative Extension, University of California, 1720 South Maple Avenue, Fresno, CA 93703

Fruit set is the major determinant of productivity in almond [Prunus dulcis (Mill D.A. Webb)] where seed is the commercial product. Boron influences flowering and fruit set in a number of crops, but little has been reported on this subject in almond. Here, we investigated the effect of a fall foliar application of B on fruit set and tissue B concentration in open pollinated `Butte' and `Mono' almond over a 2-year period. Early fall B application significantly increased the vegetative, floral, and fruit tissue B concentration in the subsequent year. The greatest increase in organ B concentration was observed in flower buds, flowers, and hulls. Recent work has demonstrated that B forms a B-sorbitol complex in Prunus species. This B-sorbitol complex is phloem mobile and is transported to sink organs. Here we demonstrate that fall-applied B is absorbed by the leaf and is subsequently transported (presumably as the B-sorbitol complex) to floral buds where it is available to flowers and, hence, influences fruit set and yield. It is concluded that fall foliar-applied B is a useful fertilization strategy that can be used to optimize tissue B concentration in species in which B is phloem mobile. Boron applied at 245 and/or 490 ppm significantly increased fruit set in `Butte' and `Mono' and increased yield of `Butte' in 1994 on open-pollinated trees (yield was not determined in 1993). The highest initial and second fruit set was associated with either the 245 or 490 ppm B treatments in both cultivars and both years. This increased fruit set resulted in yield increases of 53% and 4%, respectively, for `Butte' and `Mono'. Of the two cultivars, `Butte', which had lower tissue B concentration before B application, responded more significantly in yield to B application. Application of 735 ppm B was less effective than either 245 and 490 ppm B; however, no visual symptoms of excess B were observed.

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