Root and Shoot Characteristics of Peach Trees with Different Growth Habits

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Appalachian Fruit Research Station, 45 Wiltshire Road, Kearneysville, WV 25430

Shoot and root characteristics of four peach tree [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch (Peach Group)] growth habits (compact, dwarf, pillar, and standard) were studied. In compact trees, leaf number (1350/tree) was twice, but leaf area (6 cm2/leaf) was half that of pillar and standard trees. The number of lateral branches in compact trees (34) was nearly three times more than in pillar and standard trees. Leaf area index (total one-side leaf area per tree divided by the canopy cross-sectional area of the tree) of pillar trees was greater than compact, dwarf, and standard trees (13 compared with 4, 4, and 3, respectively) due to a narrower crown diameter. Dwarf trees were distinct with few leaves (134/tree) and less than half the roots of the other growth habits. Compact trees produced more higher order lateral (HOL) roots than pillar and standard trees. More second order lateral (SOL) roots were produced by compact than standard trees (1.2 vs. 0.8 SOL roots per centimeter first order lateral root). Pillar trees had higher shoot: root dry weight (DW) ratios (2.4) than compact and standard trees (1.7 for both) due to lower root DWs. Root topology was similar among compact, pillar, and standard peach trees but root axes between branch junctions (links) were significantly longer in compact trees. Compact trees had more and longer HOL roots in roots originating near the root collar (stem-root junction) (i.e., more fibrous roots) and this appeared to correlate with more lateral branches in the canopy. These results indicate significant differences in root as well as shoot architecture among growth habits that can affect their use as scion or rootstock cultivars.

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