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P.H. Brown and H. Hu

We have demonstrated that boron (B) is freely phloem mobile in a number of crop species and we predict that B will be mobile in all species that transport polyols (mannitol, sorbitol, dulcitol). This finding directly contradicts accepted dogma and profoundly influences the diagnosis and management of B in almond, apple, apricot, cherry, pear, peach, plum, prune, celery, and other species. In the majority plants, B moves in the xylem with the transpiration stream. Once B enters the leaf, it remains there with little or no redistribution. As a result, there is always a decreasing concentration gradient of B from old to young leaves and B toxicity symptoms always occurs in the old leaves first, typically exhibiting tip and margin burn. In species in which B is mobile, these symptoms do not occur. When almond, peach, and plum were exposed to high B in the growth medium, the predominant site of B accumulation was fruit, young stems and apical meristems. As a consequence, the earliest symptoms of B toxicity in species in which B is phloem mobile are observed in the young shoot meristems and fruits. Foliar application of 10B isotope demonstrates that B is readily transported to neighboring fruits and buds of almond, apple, and nectarine. In apple seedlings, plant B requirements can be fully satisfied solely by foliar application to a few mature leaves. This strongly suggest that foliar B applications can be used as an efficient means for B fertilization in Malus, Prunus, and Pyrus species. Details of the studies and their implications for B management will be discussed.

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Patrick H. Brown

Concentrations of N, P, K, Ca, Mg, B, Fe, Cu, Zn, and Mn in mature commercial fig (`Calimyrna'; `Sari Lop') leaves are presented throughout the growing season. These data can be used as preliminary norms for the interpretation of tree nutrient status for high-yielding commercial fig orchards. In comparison with other deciduous tree crops growing in the same regions {almond [Prunus amygdalus Batsch syn. P. dulcis (Mill) D.A. Webb], walnut (Juglans regia L.), peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch]}, productive fig trees have relatively low leaf N, P, and K concentrations (2.1%, 0.1%, and 1.0% dry weight, respectively) in July, although tissue Mn and Ca concentrations often exceed those typically found in other deciduous species growing in the same soils. Seasonal variations in fig leaf nutrient concentrations are similar to those of other tree crops. Marked declines in tissue K and N concentrations toward the end of the season may indicate a need for supplemental N and K fertilization in highly productive orchards. The potential for K deficiency in fig also is indicated by the generally lower leaf K concentrations in the low-vigor orchards examined.

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Patrick H. Brown

The aim of this research was to determine the seasonal patterns of N demand and uptake in mature almond trees and to use this information to develop an integrated computer model to guide fertilization management. To this end sequential whole tree excavations were conducted at 5 stages during a 15-month period. At each harvest date, five entire mature trees were excavated and partitioned into leaves, root, trunks, and branches. Samples were then analyzed for total nutrient content and differences in nutrient content between sequential harvests, which represents tree nutrient demand and tree nutrient uptake. Infromation on seasonal N uptake dynamics and total yearly N demand has now been integrated into a user-friendly interactive computer program that can be used to optimize N fertilizer management. The details of this program will be discussed. In summary, the determination of N fluxes in almond demonstrates that the majority of N uptake and demand occurs from late February through to early September and that the primary demand for N is for nut fill and nut development. N demands can therefore be predicted by estimating yield and can be applied during the periods of greatest N uptake from the soil which occurs during nut development. By timing N applications with periods of greatest demand, and matching N application rates with crop load we provide growers with a tool that will encourage maximum efficiency of use of N fertilizers. Maximum efficiency of use will result in a minimization of N loss from the orchard system.

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Qinglong Zhang and Patrick H. Brown

In this study, we investigated the effectiveness of several Zn formulations applied at various times of the year in increasing Zn status of pistachio and walnut leaves. Formulations included inorganic and organic forms of Zn. Fall sprays was ineffective at supplying Zn to developing leaves even when very high rates (5000 ppm) were used. Late dormant and budbreak sprays were effective at supplying Zn to developing leaves and nuts only when extremely high rates (5000 ppm) were applied. Spring flush sprays were the most effective, while late spring and summer sprays were ineffective. The majority of the Zn applied remained in the epidermis of the sprayed leaves, which resulted in high Zn content of leaves but poor correction of Zn deficiency and little or no translocation of Zn to other plant parts. Many of the Zn formulations sprayed at spring flush at a rate of 1000 ppm effectively increased leaf Zn values by at least 10 μgg–1. Addition of an appropriate organic acid to the spray solution and adjustment of pH to ≈4.5 improves leaf uptake and translocation of Zn. Addition of specific surfactants into the spray solution is also recommended. Use of N- and P-containing Zn spray formulations is less effective than sulfur-based sprays (i.e., ZnSO4). Significantly, there is little residual effect of foliar sprays (even at spring flush), indicating that consecutive sprays for several years are needed to maintain productivity in Zn-deficient regions.

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Qinglong Zhang and Patrick H. Brown

The characteristics and mechanisms of foliar Zn uptake and translocation in pistachio (Pistachio vera L.) and walnut (Juglans regia L.) were investigated using 68Zn labelling in both intact and detached leaves. Following washing, mature walnut and pistachio leaves retained 8% and 12% of the total Zn applied, respectively. About half of retained Zn (3.5% and 6.5% of total Zn respectively) was absorbed into the leaf and translocated outside the treated area. Leaf age affected the Zn absorption capacity of pistachio but not walnut. Immature pistachio leaves absorbed more Zn than mature leaves. The absorption of Zn by walnut leaves at high concentrations (7.5 to 15 mm Zn) was not significantly affected by the pH of the solution. In pistachio Zn absorption was greatest at pH 3.5 and declined as pH increased to 8.5. The uptake process was not affected by light or addition of metabolic inhibitors. Foliar leaf absorption was only slightly affected by changes in temperature with an average Q10 of 1.2 to 1.4. This study suggests that foliar Zn uptake is dominated by an ion exchange and/or diffusion process rather than an active one. This study also demonstrates the usefulness of stable isotope labelling in studies of foliar Zn absorption.

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Qinglong Zhang and Patrick H. Brown

The distribution and transport of foliar applied Zn were determined for pistachio (Pistachio vera L.) seedlings and mature trees using stable 68Zn isotope. In seedlings, ≈5.4% of Zn adsorbed by the leaf was transported out of the treated leaves and this Zn was detected in all other plant parts to varying extent. In mature trees, the transport of Zn occurred both acropetally and basipetally within the leaflets with more basipetal movement; however, no significant amount of Zn was transported out of the treated leaflets during the first 10 days after application. The total percentage of Zn transported to other plant parts 20 days after application was significantly greater when Zn was applied to immature leaflets (6.5%) than to mature leaflets (2.1%), though the majority of the absorbed Zn remained within the treated leaflets. The limited mobility of foliar-absorbed Zn in pistachio may partially be attributed to the high binding capacity of leaf tissue for Zn.

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Patrick H. Brown, Louise Ferguson, and Geno Picchioni

The uptake and distribution of foliar and soil applied boron has been followed in a seven year old pistachio orchard by utilizing 10B isotope dilution techniques and ICP-MS determination. In conjunction with these uptake studies, in-vivo and in-vitro measurements of pollination and fruit set have been used to determine the role of boron in flowering and fruit set.

Foliar applications of boron (1, 2.5 and 5 kg/400 l) resulted in improved fruit set when compared to control trees receiving no supplemental B even when tissue B levels in these control trees appeared adequate (>60 μg/g dwt). Results indicate that B applied to male trees in the late dormant phase (february) is effective in enhancing in-vitro pollen germination by as much as 50%. Movement of B into flower buds and fruit clusters was verified using 10B techniques thus demonstrating the potential usefulness of this technique in correcting incipient B deficiency. A possible role of B in the flowering and fruiting process is discussed.

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Agnes M.S. Nyomora and P.H. Brown

Previous work in our laboratory demonstrated that B promotes flowering, fruit set, and yield in almond. A positive response of almond tissue B concentration, fruit set, and yield to B application was observed. Positive correlations between tissue B concentration with fruit set or yield were found when B was applied at 0–1.67 kg B/ha. An investigation was undertaken to test whether the time of B application had a significant effect on B concentration and yield in almond. Solubor (20.5% B) was applied at 0.8 and 1.67 kg B/ha during fall (September), winter (December), and spring (February) to `Butte' (pollinizer) and `Mono' (pistil donor). Results show that for most attributes, September application was more effective than spring and winter. `Butte' was more responsive to B application than `Mono'.

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Agnes M.S. Nvomora and Patrick H. Brown

Fruit set is a major determinant of nut productivity. Boron has been shown to have a significant influence on flowering and fruit set in a number of crops but less is reported on almond. This paper presents results of foliar application of a B commercial product, Solubor(20.5% B) at a rate of 1,2,3lb/100 gallons to `Butte' and `Mono' almond cultivars Boron at 1 and 2lb increased fruit set in both open and hand pollinated trees by over 100% while 3lb was less effective. The resultant B concentration in flower buds was correlated to B concentration in flowers (R2=0.58) and immature fruits (R2=0.6) but not to summer and fall leaf, pistil, and pollen B concentration or fruit set.

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D.S. Tustin, T. Fulton, and H. Brown

Growth of apple fruit can be described as an initial exponential phase lasting the 40+ days of fruit cell division followed by a more-or-less linear phase where growth is by cell expansion. Temperature is a major influence on fruit growth rate during the cell division phase, thereby affecting fruit size at maturity. However it is generally thought that temperature has less-direct impact on fruit development during the fruit expansion phase. Our observations of apple growth among regions and seasons of considerable climatic variability led us to speculate that temperature may impact directly on fruit development during fruit expansion but that responses may be interactive with carbon balance (crop load) influences. Controlled environment studies are being used to examine this hypothesis. Potted `Royal Gala' trees set to three levels of crop (one fruit per 250, 500, or 1000 cm2 leaf area) were grown from 56 to 112 DAFB in day/night temperature regimes of 18/6, 24/12, and 30/18 °C. All trees grew in field conditions prior to and following the controlled environment treatments. Treatments were harvested when 20% to 25% of fruit on trees showed the visual indicators used commercially to indicate harvest maturity. Fruit were evaluated using attributes that determine quality and that may have implications for fruit post harvest behaviour. Temperature and crop load influences on time to maturity, fruit fresh and dry weight, fruit DM content, fruit firmness, fruit airspace content and estimated fruit cortical cell size will be presented and implications discussed.