Photoassimilate distribution was evaluated in bush snap beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L. ‘Oregon 1604’) field-grown at low and high plant densities (33 and 54 plants·m−2) and irrigated when soil water potential reached −0.06 MPa (high) or −0.25 MPa (low irrigation). A single trifoliolate leaf per plant, either at a lower (node 2 or 3) or upper (node 5) canopy position, was briefly dosed with 14CO2 and plants harvested after 27 hr. This treatment occurred on 3 dates (25, 27, and 31 July), corresponding to the days when flowers at each of the 3 raceme nodes of the terminal inflorescence sequentially reached 1 to 2 days post-anthesis. 14C activity was measured in shoot parts, including individual flowers and pods. Partitioning was calculated as the percentage of distribution of 14C exported from the exposed leaf. Although irrigation-density effects on 14C-partitioning were slight, the percentage of 14C-assimilate translocated from the dosed leaf to its nearby inflorescence increased sharply at each successive sampling date. On 25 July, flowers at each of the 3 raceme nodes of the terminal inflorescence had only 2–4% of the 14C activity, whereas on 31 July those at the proximal 2 positions had 34% compared to 2% at the distal raceme node. Flowers and pods at distal raceme node positions received small percentages of exported 14C and tended to abscise, while those at proximal raceme nodes sequestered a much higher fraction of 14C and developed mature pods. Sink intensity (the percentage of 14C/dry weight) of flowers at a raceme node was lowest near anthesis, peaked 3 to 4 days after anthesis, and then declined. Maximum sink intensity of basal flowers in an axillary inflorescence lower in the canopy was twice as high as in comparable flowers of the terminal raceme. The reduced accumulation of photoassimilate and declining sink intensity in organs at distal raceme nodes may contribute to their increased rate of abscission.
Yield variables of mainstem nodes 6 (terminal) and 2 (that of the first trifoliate leaf) of ‘Oregon 1604’(Phaseolus vulgaris L.) were evaluated at 2 irrigation regimes × 2 plant populations in a warm (1978) and a moderate (1979) season. A single inflorescence formed at node 6, whereas up to 4 inflorescences were borne on branches at node 2. After emergence, crops were irrigated either when the soil water potential reached −0.06 MPa (high) or −0.25 MPa (low). High and low plant populations were, respectively, 45 vs. 18 plants/m2 in 1978 and 54 vs. 33 plants/m2 in 1979. Yield per unit area was increased significantly from 38–54% by high plant population and 40–120% by high irrigation. On a per plant basis, plant population failed to have a significant effect on total yield or yield variables at node 6. At node 2, however, high plant population reduced the number of inflorescences in 1978 and decreased the number of flowers, number of pods formed and harvested, and percentage set and reduced pod yield by about 50% in both years. Per unit area yields of node 2 at high and low plant population differed by less than 13–18%. Since the productivity of node 6 was not influenced by density, per unit area yields at this node more directly reflected plant population. Nodes 2 and 6 responded similarly to the low irrigation regime, which in 1978 significantly decreased the number of pods formed, percentage set, and pod yield at both nodes. Irrigation effects on individual yield parameters at each node generally were less in the cooler 1979 season. No significant irrigation–plant population interactions occurred for any measured yield variable in either season.