The effects of 15N-labeled fertilizer applied to mature summer-bearing red raspberry (Rubus idaeus L. `Meeker') plants were measured over 2 years. Four nitrogen (N) treatments were applied: singularly at 0, 40, or 80 kg·ha-1 of N in early spring (budbreak), or split with 40 kg·ha-1 of N (unlabeled) applied at budbreak and 40 kg·ha-1 of N (15N-depleted) applied eight weeks later. Plants were sampled six times per year to determine N and 15N content in the plant components throughout the growing season. Soil also was sampled seven times per year to determine inorganic N concentrations within the four treatments as well as in a bare soil plot. There was a tendency for the unfertilized treatment to have the lowest and for the split-N treatment to have the highest yield in both years. N application had no significant effect on plant dry weight or total N content in either year. Dry weight accumulation was 5.5 t·ha-1 and total N accumulation was 88 to 96 kg·ha-1 for aboveground biomass in the fertilized plots in 2001. Of the total N present, averaged over 2 years, 17% was removed in prunings, 12% was lost through primocane leaf senescence, 13% was removed through fruit harvest, 30% remained in the over-wintering plant, and 28% was considered lost or transported to the roots. Peak fertilizer N-uptake occurred by July for the single N applications and by September for the last application in the split-N treatment. This uptake accounted for 36% to 37% (single applications) and 24% (last half of split application) of the 15N applied. Plants receiving the highest single rate of fertilizer took up more fertilizer N while plants receiving the lower rate took up more N from the soil and from storage tissues. By midharvest, fertilizer N was found primarily in the fruit, fruiting laterals, and primocanes (94%) for all fertilized treatments; however, the majority of the fertilizer N applied in the last half of the split application was located in the primocanes (60%). Stored fertilizer N distribution was similar in all fertilized treatments. By the end of the second year, 5% to 12% of the fertilizer acquired in 2001 remained in the fertilized plants. Soil nitrate concentrations increased after fertilization to 78.5 g·m-3, and declined to an average of 35.6 g·m-3 by fruit harvest. Seasonal soil N decline was partially attributed to plant uptake; however, leaching and immobilization into the organic fraction may also have contributed to the decline.
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