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Guohai Xia and Lailiang Cheng

Four-year-old `Gala'/M.26 trees were grown under low (2.5 mm), medium (12.5 mm), or high (25 mm) N supply with balanced nutrients in sand culture and the cropload was adjusted to 5 fruit/cm2 trunk cross-sectional area at 10 mm king fruit. After harvesting, half of the trees in each N treatment were sprayed twice with 3% urea a week apart in late September. Before budbreak the following spring, four trees from each treatment combination were destructively sampled for reserve nitrogen and carbohydrate analysis. Foliar urea application significantly increased tree N concentration and concentrations of both free amino acids and proteins, but decreased the concentration of total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNC) at each soil N supply level. When the carbon in free amino acids and proteins are taken into account, trees sprayed with foliar urea had similar levels of total sum of carbon in TNC, free amino acids and proteins. On a whole tree basis, trees sprayed with foliar urea had more N and less TNC. During the second year of the experiment, all the trees received normal N supply. Trees sprayed with foliar urea the previous fall had a significantly larger total leaf area and higher fruit set, fruit number, and total yield than those unsprayed. We conclude that fruit set and early fruit development as well as vegetative growth in spring is mainly determined by reserve nitrogen, not by reserve carbohydrates. Conversion of a portion of TNC to amino acids and proteins leads to better growth and fruiting of apple trees.

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Guohai Xia and Lailiang Cheng

Four-year-old `Gala'/M.26 trees were grown under low (2.5 mm), medium (12.5 mm), or high (25 mm) N supply with balanced nutrients in sand culture and the cropload was adjusted to 5 fruit/cm2 trunk cross-sectional area at 10 mm king fruit. At about 100 days after bloom, exposed fruit on the south side of the canopy were chosen for monitoring chlorophyll fluorescence and fruit peel samples were taken for measuring xanthophyll cycle pigments, antioxidant enzymes, and metabolites. At noon, the efficiency of excitation transfer (Fv'/Fm') of the sun-exposed peel was higher in the low N treatment than in the medium or high N treatments. Photochemical quenching coefficient did not differ between fruits in different N treatments. The Photosystem II operating efficiency was higher in the peel of low N fruit compared with medium N or high N fruit. However, maximum quantum efficiency (Fv/Fm) of fruit peel after overnight dark adaptation was similar across the N treatments. The xanthophyll cycle pool size expressed on peel area basis was larger in the high N fruit than in the low N fruit. This corresponds well with the thermal dissipation capacity, as indicated by efficiency of excitation transfer. Over 95% of the xanthophyll cycle pool in the sun-exposed side was present in the form of zeaxanthin and antheraxanthin at noon regardless of N treatments. Activities of superoxide dismutase and all the antioxidant enzymes and metabolites in the ascorbate-glutathione cycle were higher in the high N fruit than in low N fruit. The results indicate that apple fruit with a good N status have a higher photoprotective capacity in terms of xanthophyll cycle-dependent thermal dissipation and detoxification of reactive oxygen species compared with low N fruit.

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Guohai Xia* and Lailiang Cheng

One-year-old `Concord' vines were fertigated with 0, 5, 10, 15, or 20 mm N in a modified Hoagland's solution for 8 weeks during summer. Half of the vines fertigated at each N concentration were sprayed with 3% foliar urea twice in late September while the rest served as controls. Four vines from each treatment combination were destructively sampled during dormancy to determine the levels and forms of N and carbohydrates. Nitrogen fertigation during the summer only slightly increased vine N concentration whereas foliar urea application in the fall significantly increased vine N concentration. In response to foliar urea application, concentrations of both free amino acid-N and protein-N increased, but the ratio of protein N to amino acid N decreased. Arginine was the most abundant amino acid in free amino acids and proteins, and its concentration was linearly correlated with vine N concentration. Concentrations of total non-structural carbohydrates (TNC) decreased slightly in response to N supply from fertigation. Foliar urea application in the fall significantly decreased TNC concentration at each N fertigation level. Starch, glucose and fructose decreased in response to foliar urea applications, but sucrose concentration remained unaffected. Approximately 60% of the carbon decrease in TNC caused by foliar urea application was recovered in proteins and free amino acids. We conclude that free amino acids account for a larger proportion of the N in vines sprayed with foliar urea, but proteins remain as the main form of N storage. In response to foliar urea application, part of the carbon from TNC is incorporated into proteins and free amino acids, leading to a decrease in the carbon stored in TNC and an increase in the carbon stored in proteins and free amino acids.

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Guohai Xia and Lailiang Cheng

One-year-old `Concord' grapevines (Vitis labruscana Bailey) were fertigated with 0, 5, 10, 15, or 20 mm N in a modified Hoagland's solution for 8 weeks during summer. Half of the vines fertigated at each N concentration were sprayed with 3% foliar urea twice in late September while the rest served as controls. Four vines from each treatment combination were destructively sampled during dormancy to determine the levels and forms of N and carbohydrates. Nitrogen fertigation during the summer did not significantly alter vine N concentration whereas foliar urea application in the fall significantly increased vine N concentration. In response to foliar urea application, concentrations of both free amino acid-N and protein-N increased, but the ratio of protein-N to free amino acid-N decreased. Arginine was the most abundant amino acid in free amino acids and proteins, and its concentration was linearly correlated with vine N concentration. Concentrations of total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNC) decreased slightly in response to N supply from fertigation. Foliar urea application in the fall significantly decreased TNC concentration at each N fertigation level. Starch, glucose, and fructose decreased in response to foliar urea applications, but sucrose concentration remained unaffected. Approximately 60% of the carbon decrease in TNC caused by foliar urea application was recovered in proteins and free amino acids. We conclude that free amino acids account for a larger proportion of the N in vines sprayed with foliar urea compared with the unsprayed vines, but proteins remain as the main form of N storage. In response to foliar urea application, part of the carbon from TNC is incorporated into proteins and free amino acids, leading to a decrease in the carbon stored in TNC and an increase in the carbon stored in proteins and free amino acids.

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Lailiang Cheng, Guohai Xia, and Terry Bates

One-year-old `Concord' grapevines (Vitis labruscana Bailey) were fertigated with 0, 5, 10, 15, or 20 mm nitrogen by using a modified Hoagland's solution for 8 weeks during active vine growth in summer. Half of the vines at each N concentration were sprayed with 3% foliar urea twice in late September while the rest served as controls. After natural leaf fall, all the vines were overwintered in a cold room (2 to 4 °C). Four vines from each treatment were destructively sampled before budbreak for reserve N and carbohydrate analysis. The remaining vines were supplied with either no N or sufficient N (10 mm N) from 2 weeks before bloom to 1 month after bloom. All the vines were destructively harvested at 1 month after bloom. Total amount of N in dormant vines increased with increasing N fertigation concentration. Total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNC) increased with increasing N fertigation concentration from 0 to 10 mm, and then leveled off with further rises in N supply. Foliar urea application increased total N but decreased TNC of dormant vines at each given N fertigation level. When no N was provided during the regrowth period, vine total leaf area, fruit yield, and total dry weight increased with increasing N supply from fertigation the previous year. Vines sprayed with foliar urea the previous fall produced a larger total leaf area, a higher yield, and a higher total vine dry weight at each given N fertigation concentration. Providing vines with sufficient N during the regrowth period significantly increased total leaf area, fruit yield, and vine total dry weight across the previous N fertigation concentrations, but vines sprayed with foliar urea still had a larger leaf area, a higher yield, and a higher total vine dry weight at each given N fertigation concentration. Therefore, we conclude that both vegetative growth and fruiting of young `Concord' vines are largely determined by reserve nitrogen, not by reserve carbohydrates, and that current-season N supply plays a very important role in sustaining vine growth and development, especially fruit growth.

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Guohai Xia, Lailiang Cheng, Alan Lakso, and Martin Goffinet

The objective of this study was to determine how nitrogen (N) supply affects the source-sink balance and fruit size of ‘Gala’ apple when crop load was controlled at a moderate level. Five-year-old ‘Gala’/‘M.26’ trees grown in sand culture and trained in tall spindle received a total of 3.3, 10.0, 20.0, or 40.0 g actual N through fertigation using Hoagland's solution from bloom to 3 weeks before harvest. The crop load of these trees was adjusted to 6.5 fruit/cm2 trunk cross-sectional area by hand thinning when the diameter of the largest fruit was 10 mm. As N supply increased, total shoot leaf area in the canopy increased, whereas total spur leaf area remained unchanged. Both single leaf and whole canopy net CO2 assimilation rates increased with increasing N supply. The net dry matter gain of the whole tree from budbreak to fruit harvest increased ≈74% from the lowest N supply to the highest N supply, but the proportion of net dry matter gain partitioned to fruit (harvest index) decreased from 83% to 70%. Both leaf area to fruit ratio and average final fruit size increased with increasing N supply, and a linear relationship was found between leaf area to fruit ratio and final fruit size. The number of cells per fruit increased with increasing N supply, whereas average cell size remained unchanged. As N supply increased, fruit soluble solids concentration increased, whereas fruit firmness decreased slightly. These results indicate that 1) apple trees grown under low N supply are source-limited; and 2) within the range of N supply used, increasing N supply improves leaf N status, leaf and whole tree photosynthetic capacity, and leaf area to fruit ratio, leading to more cells per fruit, larger fruit, and higher soluble solids.