Size, Biomass, and Nitrogen Relationships with Sweet Orange Tree Growth

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 University of Florida, Southwest Florida REC, 2686 SR 29N, Immokalee, FL 34142
  • 2 University of Florida, Agronomy Department, P.O. Box 110500, Gainesville, FL 32611
  • 3 University of Florida, Soil and Water Science Department, P.O. Box 110290, Gainesville, FL 32611
  • 4 University of Florida, Citrus REC, 700 Experiment Station Road, Lake Alfred, FL 33850

Growth and nitrogen (N) accumulation relationships based on tree size, rather than age, may provide more generic information that could be used to improve sweet orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck] N management. The objectives of this study were to determine how orange trees accumulate and distribute biomass and N as they grow, investigate yearly biomass and N changes in mature orange trees, determine rootstock effect on biomass and N distribution, and to develop simple mathematical models describing these relationships. Eighteen orange trees with canopy volumes ranging between 2 and 43 m3 were dissected into leaf, twig, branch, and root components, and the dry weight and N concentration of each were measured. The N content of each tree part was calculated, and biomass and N distribution throughout each tree were determined. The total dry biomass of large (mature) trees averaged 94 kg and contained 0.79 kg N. Biomass allocation was 13% in leaves, 7% in twigs, 50% in branches/trunk, and 30% in roots. N allocation was 38% in leaves, 8% in twigs, 27% in branches/trunk, and 27% in roots. For the smallest tree, above-/below-ground distribution ratios for biomass and N were 60/40 and 75/25, respectively. All tree components accumulated biomass and N linearly as tree size increased, with the above-ground portion accumulating biomass about 2.5 times faster than the below-ground portion due mostly to branch growth. The growth models developed are currently being integrated in a decision support system for improving fertilizer use efficiency for orange trees, which will provide growers with a management tool to improve long-term N use efficiency in orange orchards.

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