Springtime 15Nitrogen Uptake, Partitioning, and Leaching Losses from Young Bearing Citrus Trees of Differing Nitrogen Status

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Citrus Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Lake Alfred, FL 33850
  • | 2 Department of Soil and Water Science, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611

15Nitrogen uptake, allocation, and leaching losses from soil were quantified during spring, for 4-year-old bearing `Redblush' grapefruit (Citrus × paradisi Macf.) trees on rootstocks that impart contrasting growth rates. Nine trees on either the fast-growing `Volkamer' lemon (VL) (C. volkameriana Ten & Pasq.) or nine on the slower-growing sour orange (SO) (C. aurantium L.) rootstocks were established in drainage lysimeters filled with Candler fine sand and fertilized with 30 split applications of N, totaling 76, 140, or 336 g·year-1 per tree. A single application of double-labeled ammonium nitrate (15NH 154NO3, 20% enriched) was applied at each rate to replicate trees, in late April. Leaves, fibrous roots, soil, and leachates were intensively sampled from each treatment over the next 29 days, to determine the fate of the 15NH 154NO3 application. Newly developing spring leaves and fruit formed dominant competitive sinks for 15N, accounting for between 40% and 70% of the total 15N taken up by the various treatments. Large fruit loads intercepted up to 20% of this 15N, at the expense of spring flush development, to the detriment of overall tree N status in low-N trees. Nitrogen supply at less than the currently recommended yearly rate of 380 g/tree exceeded the requirements of 4-year-old grapefruit trees on SO rootstock; however, larger trees on VL rootstock took up the majority of 15N from this rate over the 29-day period. Nitrogen-use efficiency declined with increasing N rate, irrespective of rootstock. The residual amounts of 15N remaining in the soil profile under SO trees after this time represented a significant N leaching potential from these sandy soils. Therefore, under these conditions, present N recommendations appear adequate for rootstocks that impart relatively fast growth rates to Citrus trees, but seem excessive for trees on slower-growing rootstock species.

Contributor Notes

Presently assistant professor, Department of Natural Resource Sciences and Landscape Architecture, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. To whom correspondence should be addressed.
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