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  • Author or Editor: Timothy L. Righetti x
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Two approaches for estimating the amount of nitrogen (N) in plant tissues derived from labeled fertilizer were evaluated for two tissue types (root and shoot) in three different genera. In the first, atom percentage values obtained by mass spectrometry were converted to the portion of N derived from the fertilizer (NDFF). In the second, the slope of the regression line for the relationship between total N and labeled fertilizer N was used to represent the incremental increase in fertilizer N for each unit increase in total N. These two approaches were applied to data collected during container experiments. Unless a plot of total N versus labeled fertilizer N passes through the origin, conventional ratio-based estimates of the amount of NDFF for plants or tissues are often misleading. When nonzero intercepts occur, NDFF is dependent on the size (total N content) of the tissue or plant. Nonzero intercepts were frequently encountered. An analysis of regression lines describing the relationship between total N gain and fertilizer N produces a different interpretation than evaluations of the NDFF for treatment means. When an analysis of covariance was used to account for differences in total N between tissues and genera, results were generally consistent with the graphical observations and regression analysis. If only ratio-based approaches are used, it is difficult to determine if there are real physiological differences among treatments, genera, and tissues or if differences in NDFF are size-related. Because the data easily can be analyzed several ways, simultaneously evaluating data with ratio-based NDFF, covariates, and regression is appropriate.

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Management of pear (Pyrus communis L.) trees for low N and high Ca content in the fruit reduced the severity of postharvest fungal decay. Application of N fertilizer 3 weeks before harvest supplied N for tree reserves and for flowers the following spring without increasing fruit N. Calcium chloride sprays during the growing season increased fruit Ca content. Nitrogen and Ca management appear to be additive factors in decay reduction. Fruit density and position in the tree canopy influenced their response to N fertilization. Nitrogen: Ca ratios were lower in fruit from the east quadrant and bottom third of trees and from the distal portion of branches. High fruit density was associated with low N: Ca ratios. Nutritional manipulations appear to be compatible with other methods of postharvest decay control.

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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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Abstract

The Diagnosis and Recommendation Integrated System (DRIS), which uses nutrient element concentration ratios as indicators of nutrient deficiency, was used to evaluate current sufficiency ranges for hazelnut trees. Reference values that were derived from published and unpublished field data were used to calculate DRIS indices for N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Mn, Fe, Cu, B, and Zn. A nutritional imbalance index (NII) was computed as the sum of DRIS indices irrespective of sign, and a threshold NII value (mean NII + 1 SD), above which severe imbalances are expected, was established. DRIS diagnoses were then compared with the sufficiency range approach to determine if relative deficiencies or excesses associated with severely imbalanced trees would have been routinely detected in 624 mineral analyses of hazelnut leaves. A previously published field trial was also reevaluated. DRIS diagnosis generally agreed with the diagnoses made by the sufficiency range method, especially if sufficiency ranges for some elements were made more narrow. However, some nutrients were never identified by DRIS as a major relative deficiency or excess in any of the trees judged severely imbalanced, based on the sum of DRIS indices. Nitrogen and Mg deficiencies were not detected unless lower NII thresholds were used. Unfortunately, lowering NII thresholds enough to detect N and Mg deficiencies identified some high-yielding trees as severely imbalanced. DRIS will not detect all deficiencies or excesses. Therefore, DRIS is best viewed as a supplement to sufficiency range diagnoses that provides additional information when severe imbalances are detected.

Open Access

Abstract

A diagnostic procedure was developed to identify mineral limitations on pome fruit quality. Fruit mineral levels were useful only when developed on a ranked or percentile (0 to 100) basis. Therefore, procedures were developed using percentile values for both leaf and fruit mineral concentration. An individual can decide which quality parameters are important and whether minimum, maximum, or intermediate values for these quality parameters are most desirable. Multiple regression is used to predict relative rankings for each qualify parameter. A simple sorting program allows the operator to use these rankings to choose which categories of fruit are undesirable. It is then possible to select from among remaining lots those likely to contain fruit having the poststorage quality factors the operator considers most important. The approach is demonstrated with 2 years of data from a high-density ‘Starkspur Golden Delicious’ apple orchard. Selections of fruit with the best poststorage quality were based on mineral content, assuming that maximum firmness, soluble solids, titratable acidity, and yellow color were considered as most desirable. Further ranking evaluations were obtained by evaluating 6 years of data relating quality in ‘d’Anjou’ pears with fruit mineral concentrations. A ranking approach allows meaningful interpretation despite large differences in fruit mineral concentrations reported for different locations and years by a range of analytical laboratories. The procedure is flexible, and fruit could be categorized successfully according to several definitions of optimum quality.

Open Access

Abstract

Forward stepwise multiple regression equations were developed from seasonal leaf and fruit mineral analyses to predict quality parameters for ‘Starkspur Golden Delicious’ apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) during 1980–82. Quality parameters were evaluated both at harvest and after 6 months of 0°C storage. Soluble solids, skin ground color, and titratable acidity were strongly predictable as early as June or July. However, an August analysis was most predictive. For titratable acidity, a combination of both leaf and fruit minerals produced stronger predictions than leaf or fruit minerals alone in each individual year. Soluble solids, skin ground color, and bitterpit were more accurately predicted by fruit analyses. Fruit size was important in regression equations for firmness, but was not essential for other parameters. Although between-year predictions were not as good as within-year predictions, regression equations could successfully place fruit in high or low categories for most quality parameters.

Open Access

The effects of nitrogen (N) fertilizer application on plant growth, N uptake, and biomass and N allocation in highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L. ‘Bluecrop’) were determined during the first 2 years of field establishment. Plants were either grown without N fertilizer after planting (0N) or were fertilized with 50, 100, or 150 kg·ha−1 of N (50N, 100N, 150N, respectively) per year using 15N-depleted ammonium sulfate the first year (2002) and non-labeled ammonium sulfate the second year (2003) and were destructively harvested on 11 dates from Mar. 2002 to Jan. 2004. Application of 50N produced the most growth and yield among the N fertilizer treatments, whereas application of 100N and 150N reduced total plant dry weight (DW) and relative uptake of N fertilizer and resulted in 17% to 55% plant mortality. By the end of the first growing season in Oct. 2002, plants fertilized with 50N, 100N, and 150N recovered 17%, 10%, and 3% of the total N applied, respectively. The top-to-root DW ratio was 1.2, 1.6, 2.1, and 1.5 for the 0N, 50N, 100N, and 150N treatments, respectively. By Feb. 2003, 0N plants gained 1.6 g/plant of N from soil and pre-plant N sources, whereas fertilized plants accumulated only 0.9 g/plant of N from these sources and took up an average of 1.4 g/plant of N from the fertilizer. In Year 2, total N and dry matter increased from harvest to dormancy in 0N plants but decreased in N-fertilized plants. Plants grown with 0N also allocated less biomass to leaves and fruit than fertilized plants and therefore lost less DW and N during leaf abscission, pruning, and fruit harvest. Consequently, by Jan. 2004, there was little difference in DW between 0N and 50N treatments; however, as a result of lower N concentrations, 0N plants accumulated only 3.6 g/plant (9.6 kg·ha−1) of N, whereas plants fertilized with 50N accumulated 6.4 g/plant (17.8 kg·ha−1), 20% of which came from 15N fertilizer applied in 2002. Although fertilizer N applied in 2002 was diluted by non-labeled N applications the next year, total N derived from the fertilizer (NDFF) almost doubled during the second season, before post-harvest losses brought it back to the starting point.

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A study was done to determine the macro- and micronutrient requirements of young northern highbush blueberry plants (Vaccinium corymbosum L. ‘Bluecrop’) during the first 2 years of establishment and to examine how these requirements were affected by the amount of nitrogen (N) fertilizer applied. The plants were spaced 1.2 × 3.0 m apart and fertilized with 0, 50, or 100 kg·ha−1 of N, 35 kg·ha−1 of phosphorus (P), and 66 kg·ha−1 of potassium (K) each spring. A light fruit crop was harvested during the second year after planting. Plants were excavated and parts sampled for complete nutrient analysis at six key stages of development, from leaf budbreak after planting to fruit harvest the next year. The concentration of several nutrients in the leaves, including N, P, calcium (Ca), sulfur (S), and manganese (Mn), increased with N fertilizer application, whereas leaf boron (B) concentration decreased. In most cases, the concentration of nutrients was within or above the range considered normal for mature blueberry plants, although leaf N was below normal in plants grown without fertilizer in Year 1, and leaf B was below normal in plants fertilized with 50 or 100 kg·ha−1 N in Year 2. Plants fertilized with 50 kg·ha−1 N were largest, producing 22% to 32% more dry weight (DW) the first season and 78% to 90% more DW the second season than unfertilized plants or plants fertilized with 100 kg·ha−1 N. Most DW accumulated in new shoots, leaves, and roots in both years as well as in fruit the second year. New shoot and leaf DW was much greater each year when plants were fertilized with 50 or 100 kg·ha−1 N, whereas root DW was only greater at fruit harvest and only when 50 kg·ha−1 N was applied. Application of 50 kg·ha−1 N also increased DW of woody stems by fruit harvest, but neither 50 nor 100 kg·ha−1 N had a significant effect on crown, flower, or fruit DW. Depending on treatment, plants lost 16% to 29% of total biomass at leaf abscission, 3% to 16% when pruned in winter, and 13% to 32% at fruit harvest. The content of most nutrients in the plant followed the same patterns of accumulation and loss as plant DW. However, unlike DW, magnesium (Mg), iron (Fe), and zinc (Zn) content in new shoots and leaves was similar among N treatments the first year, and N fertilizer increased N and S content in woody stems much earlier than it increased biomass of the stems. Likewise, N, P, S, and Zn content in the crown were greater at times when N fertilizer was applied, whereas K and Ca content were sometimes lower. Overall, plants fertilized with 50 kg·ha−1 N produced the most growth and, from planting to first fruit harvest, required 34.8 kg·ha−1 N, 2.3 kg·ha−1 P, 12.5 kg·ha−1 K, 8.4 kg·ha−1 Ca, 3.8 kg·ha−1 Mg, 5.9 kg·ha−1 S, 295 g·ha−1 Fe, 40 g·ha−1 B, 23 g·ha−1 copper (Cu), 1273 g·ha−1 Mn, and 65 g·ha−1 Zn. Thus, of the total amount of fertilizer applied over 2 years, only 21% of the N, 3% of the P, and 9% of the K were used by plants during establishment.

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Over-tree sprinkler irrigation cooling treatments were applied to `Sensation Red Bartlett' pear trees during the final 30 days of fruit maturity in 1992 and 1993 when orchard air temperatures were >29 °C. Fruit from cooled trees were more red and less yellow than fruit from noncooled trees, resulting in lower hue values by the middle of the harvestable maturity period in both years of study. In 1992, cooled fruit had a greater portion of the fruit surface covered with red blush than fruit that were not cooled. Fruit firmness decreased more rapidly in fruit from cooled trees than in fruit from noncooled trees, indicating advanced maturity. Accordingly, cooled fruit should be harvested earlier than noncooled fruit to maintain postharvest quality. Differences between cooled and noncooled fruit with respect to hue, surface blush, and rate of firmness loss were more pronounced in a warm season requiring frequent cooling than in a cooler season.

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Four ratio-based efficiency expressions (yield/trunk cross-sectional area, yield/canopy area, yield/pruning weight, CO2 assimilation/leaf area) were evaluated. These expressions depend on the size of the denominator if the function describing the relationship between the denominator and the numerator has a non-zero intercept. When this occurs, it is difficult to determine if statistically different efficiency expressions reflect physiological differences or are caused by comparing expressions with different sized denominators. When denominators and numerators of efficiency expressions are plotted, the edge of the data cloud can often be statistically identified. The function describing the edge of the data cloud defines the maximum possible value (MPV) obtainable for a given value of the denominator. The percentage of MPV (%MPV) is an alternate efficiency expression that is not influenced by differing trunk cross-sectional area, canopy area, pruning weight, or leaf area. The difference between MPV and observed performance can be used to define improvement potential (IP). These alternate assessments can supplement traditional efficiency expressions. It is also possible to determine if statistical differences in traditional efficiency expressions are caused by differences in potential, differences in a plant or leaf's ability to achieve its potential, or differences in the size of the efficiency expression denominators.

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