The relationship between nitrogen (N) status and N uptake capacity has not been assessed in fruit trees. Determination of root uptake capacity by depletion of unlabeled N from external solution is less costly than methods using 15N, but is reportedly not suited for excised root studies due to reductions in uptake rates with time (Pearcy, R.W. et al. (eds). 1989. Plant Physiological Ecology, p. 195. Chapman and Hall. New York.). We tested two hypotheses: I) excised peach root NH4+ uptake rates are constant over several hours exposure to NH4+ solution and 2) excised peach root NH4+ uptake rates are negatively correlated with tree N status. Mature, N deficient, field grown `O'Henry' trees on `Lovell' peach (Prunus persica L. Batch.) rootstocks and growing in Winters, CA received (NH4)2SO4 at a rate of 200 kg N/ha on September 29, 1993. An equal number of control trees received no N fertilizer. Foliar N deficiency symptoms of fertilized trees disappeared within 3 weeks of fertilization. On Nov. 9, 1993 (prior to leaf fall), excised roots were obtained from two fertilized and two unfertilized trees. Root NH4+ accumulation rates per unit root dry weight or root length were constant over 5 hours of exposure to 70 μM NH4+ (initial concentration) for both fertilized and unfertilized trees. Unfertilized tree root NH4+ uptake rates were significantly greater than those of fertilized trees on a root dry weight or length basis. Excised root NH4+ uptake may prove to be a sensitive index of fruit tree N status.
F.J.A. Niederholzer and S.A. Weinbaum
F.J.A. Niederholzer, S.A. Weinbaum, and T.M. DeJong
The interrelationships were studied between local soil N availability, tree N status, and
F.J.A. Niederholzer, T.M. DeJong, J.-L. Saenz, T.T. Muraoka, and S.A. Weinbaum
Marginally nitrogen (N)-deficient, field-grown peach trees [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch (Peach Group) 'O' Henry'] were used to evaluate seasonal patterns of tree N uptake, vegetative growth, and yield following fall or spring fertilization. Sequential tree excavations and determinations of tree biomass and N contents in Feb. and Aug. allowed estimation of N uptake by fall-fertilized trees between September 1993 and mid-February 1994. Total N uptake (by difference) by spring- fertilized trees as well as additional N uptake by fall-fertilized trees over the spring.summer period was also determined. In fall-fertilized trees, only 24% of tree N accumulation between September 1993 and August 1994 occurred during the fall/dormancy period. Spring- and fall-fertilized trees exhibited comparable vegetative growth, fruit size, and yield despite lower dormant tree N contents and tissue N concentrations in the spring-fertilized trees. Fifty percent of tree leaf N content was available for resorption from leaves for storage in woody tree parts. This amount (N at ~30.kghhhhhhha-1) was calculated to represent more than 80% of the N storage capacity in perennial tree parts of fertilized peach trees. Our data suggest that leaf N resorption, even without fall soil N application, can provide sufficient N from storage to initiate normal growth until plant-available soil N is accessed in spring.
F.J.A. Niederholzer, R.M. Carlson, K. Uriu, N.H. Willits, and J.P. Pearson
A study was undertaken to determine the seasonal dynamics of leaf and fruit K content and the influence of tree K status and fruit growth on leaf and fruit K accumulation rates in French prune (Prunus domestics L. cv. d'Agen). Mature trees in a commercial orchard were treated with various rates of K2 SO4. (O to ≈20 kg/tree) in the fall. Fruit dry weight yield per tree at harvest and fruit K content were higher for high-K trees, but fruit percent K (by dry weight) was ≈1.0% for all trees. Leaf scorch and subsequent abscission severely reduced the canopy of K-deficient trees. Significant positive linear relationships between leaf and fruit K accumulation rates existed for the periods of 28 Apr.-28 May (May) and 28 May-7 July (June). A significant negative linear relationship existed between these two criteria from 7 July-3 Aug. (July). May (0.237 mg K per fruit-day) and July (0.267 mg K per fruit-day) mean fruit K accumulation rates were similar, but both were significantly higher (P = 0.001) than those for June (0.140 mg K per fruit-day). Mean leaf K accumulation rates for May (- 0.007 mg K per leaf-day) and July (-0.010 mg K per leaf-day) were similar, but both were significantly (P = 0.001) less than for June (0.005 mg K per leaf-day). Potassium per fruit accumulation was highest in trees with highest K status. Periods of net leaf K efflux and influx did not precisely correlate with fruit growth stages measured by fruit dry weight. The period of lowest fruit K accumulation (28 May-7 July) coincided with the period of maximum dry matter accumulation by the kernel. After 7 July, all increases in fruit dry weight and K content were due to mesocarp growth.
S.A. Weinbaum, F.J.A. Niederholzer, S. Ponchner, R.C. Rosecrance, R.M. Carlson, A.C. Whittlesey, and T.T. Muraoka
Four adjacent heavily cropping 12-year-old `Petite d'Agen' prune (Prunus domestica L.) trees were selected, and two of the trees were defruited in late spring (28 May) after the spring growth flush and full leaf expansion. Trees received K daily through the drip-irrigation system, and 15N-depleted (NH4)2SO4 was applied twice between the dates of defruiting and fruit maturation. Trees were excavated at the time of fruit maturity (28 July) and fractionated into their component parts. The following determinations were made after tree excavation and sample processing: tree dry weight, dry weight distribution among the various tree fractions (fruit, leaves, roots, trunk, and branches), tree nutrient contents, within-tree nutrient distribution, total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNCs), and recovery of labeled N. Trees only recovered ≈3% of the isotopically labeled fertilizer N over the 6-week experimental period. Heavily cropping trees absorbed ≈9 g more K per tree (17% of total tree K content) during the 2-month period of stage III fruit growth than defruited trees. The enhanced K uptake in heavily cropping trees was apparently conditioned by the large fruit K demand and occurred despite greatly reduced levels of starch and TNCs relative to defruited trees. Fruit K accumulation in heavily cropping trees was accompanied by K depletion from leaves and perennial tree parts. Except for K, fruited and defruited trees did not differ in nutrient content.