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- Author or Editor: Joshua Sherman x
Southwestern U.S. pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] orchard soils are typically alkaline and calcareous, making micronutrients such as manganese (Mn) poorly available for root uptake. Manganese is essential to the light reactions of photosynthesis (Pn), but the level of leaf Mn for optimum Pn in pecan is unknown. Our objective was to characterize the relationships of foliar Mn fertilizer applications and leaf Mn nutrition with Pn over a broad range of leaf Mn concentrations. Two experiments were conducted from 2011 to 2012 (Expt. 1) and in 2013 (Expt. 2) in immature, nonbearing ‘Pawnee’ and ‘Western’ pecan orchards near Las Cruces, NM. To create differential leaf tissue Mn concentrations, four Mn spray concentrations were applied foliarly: 0.00, 0.34, 0.68, and 1.3 g Mn/L (Control, Low, Medium, and High, respectively). In Expt. 2, we added a higher Mn concentration (2.7 g Mn/L). Repeated measurements of leaf Pn were made beginning 1 week following a Mn application using a portable Pn system. Across treatments in both studies, final leaf Mn concentrations ranged from 21 to 1488 µg·g−1. Leaves treated with 0.68 g Mn/L had higher Pn than the other treatments in each experiment. In 2013, Pn rates of the leaves treated with 0.68 g Mn/L increased 7.1% and 10.4% over the Control for ‘Pawnee’ and ‘Western’, respectively. Our data confirm an association between leaf tissue Mn and Pn; the leaf tissue Mn concentration at which Pn rates are optimized in immature pecan trees was estimated to be 151.64 (±17.3 se) µg·g−1 Mn.
Many growers fertigating their orchards with zinc–ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (Zn-EDTA) are still using supplemental zinc foliar sprays because of a lack of confidence that soil-applied Zn-EDTA is supplying enough Zn to the trees. A field study was conducted in a pecan orchard located near San Simon, AZ, on 8-year-old ‘Wichita’ trees growing in an alkaline, calcareous Vekol loam soil to evaluate the effectiveness of supplemental foliar Zn sprays. All trees were fertigated with 6.0 kg⋅ha–1 Zn in the form of Zn-EDTA in 2018 and 11.0 kg⋅ha–1 Zn in 2019 and did not exhibit visible signs of Zn deficiency. Foliar treatments of 3.75 mL⋅L–1 urea–ammonium nitrate (UAN), 3.6 g⋅L–1 zinc sulfate monohydrate (ZnSO4·H2O), 3.6 g⋅L–1 ZnSO4·H2O with 3.75 mL⋅L–1 UAN, 11 mL⋅L–1 Zn-EDTA, and water alone were applied to individual fruiting shoot terminals of trees on two dates each in 2018 and 2019. Treatments were sprayed directly onto the leaves of the selected terminals. Zn-EDTA was included as a foliar treatment in 2019 only. Leaf photosynthesis was measured to determine the impact of leaf Zn concentrations on plant function. Midday stem water potential (MDSWP) was measured to verify that water stress was not limiting photosynthesis. Both measurements were taken about 2 to 4 weeks after the application of foliar treatments. MDSWP measurements indicated a lack of water stress and therefore no effect on photosynthesis. Leaf samples collected from untreated branches indicated that the average foliar Zn concentration of untreated leaves was 21.3 mg⋅kg–1 in 2018 and 15.7 mg⋅kg–1 in 2019. No differences were observed in photosynthesis rates of treated branches. No additional benefit to leaf photosynthetic function or appearance was observed from spraying Zn on foliage of trees fertigated with Zn-EDTA.
A field study was conducted to evaluate tolerance of pecan rootstocks to soil salinity and sodicity. Seven cultivars—Elliott, Giles, Ideal, Peruque, Riverside, ‘Shoshoni, and VC1-68—were selected from a range of geographic regions of origin. The soil of the experimental plot was a poorly drained, saline–sodic Pima silty clay variant. The irrigation water was a moderately saline mix of Gila River and local groundwater with an electrical conductivity of 2.8 dS⋅m–1, containing primarily ions of Na and Cl. Eighty seeds of each cultivar were planted in a greenhouse in late Feb. 2016; 48 seedlings of each cultivar were transplanted into field plots in Feb. 2017. Half the trees received a soil-based application of Zn–ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) at planting. The trees were observed and rated for both vigor and resistance to salt injury on seven separate occasions. Trunk diameter was measured each dormant season. Leaf samples were collected on 9 Oct. 2019 and 6 Oct. 2020, and were analyzed for nutrient content. Zn-EDTA was not found to have a significant effect on growth, vigor, or resistance to salt injury. ‘Elliott’ seedlings exhibited greater tolerance for the alkaline, saline–sodic soil conditions than other cultivars. ‘Giles’ and ‘Peruque’ were most severely affected. Resistance to salt injury (ranging from marginal leaf burn to necrosis of entire leaf), vigor, and growth correlated more strongly with foliar concentrations of Na than Cl or K during 2019. Vigor and growth were not significantly correlated with foliar Na, Cl, or K concentrations in 2020. The foliar K:Na ratio had a nearly equal correlation with resistance to salt injury and a greater correlation with growth than that of Na alone in 2019. However, although the correlation of the K:Na ratio with vigor was stronger than that of Cl or K, Na had the strongest correlation with vigor in 2019. In 2020, the only significant correlation of growth and vigor was with the K:Na ratio. The strongest correlation with resistance to salt injury in 2020 was with foliar Na concentration.
Analysis of composite pecan leaf samples typically used to determine need for nutrient applications does not account for variability among trees in the sampled area. To account for this unmeasured variability, pecan orchard block nutrient standards are greater than actual single tree nutrient requirements. In 2018 and 2019, we measured variability in a pecan orchard block by evaluating nutrient status of all trees in a study area consisting of two cultivars (Wichita and Western) grafted on open-pollinated ‘Ideal’ seedlings. Foliar zinc (Zn) coefficient of variation (cv) ranged from 0.186 to 0.255 within individual cultivars and years but was as high as 0.30 when combining cultivars within a year. The ‘Western’ cultivar had higher foliar Zn concentrations than ‘Wichita’, but Zn concentrations were not consistently associated with other leaf nutrient levels, soil Zn status, or other soil properties. Using observed foliar Zn variability, we determined that it is necessary to sample 35 trees for a composite sample to achieve a relative margin of error of 10% and 95% confidence level in a pecan orchard block with more than 1000 trees. We developed field scale foliar Zn recommendations based on individual tree research that indicates a minimum acceptable leaf Zn concentration of ≈15 mg·kg–1 is needed to maintain optimal photosynthetic function in Zn chelate fertigated pecan trees. Assuming a Zn cv of 0.30 and a composite sample comprised of leaves from 35 trees, the minimum acceptable orchard block Zn level to ensure that less than 5% of trees had suboptimal levels of Zn was 27.6 mg·kg–1. An orchard block Zn level below 23.4 mg·kg–1 indicates that more than 5% of trees in the block had suboptimal foliar Zn concentrations.
Zinc deficiency is common in pecan (Carya illinoinensis) grown in alkaline, calcareous soils. Zinc (Zn)-deficient pecan leaves exhibit interveinal chlorosis, decreased leaf thickness, and reduced photosynthetic capacity. Low photosynthesis (Pn) contributes to restricted vegetative growth, flowering, and fruiting of Zn-deficient pecan trees. Our objectives were to measure effects of soil-applied ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA)-chelated Zn fertilizer on gas exchange of immature ‘Wichita’ pecan and characterize the relationship between leaf Zn concentration and Pn. The study orchard had alkaline and calcareous soils and was planted in Spring 2011. Zinc was applied throughout each growing season as Zn EDTA through microsprinklers at rates of 0 (Control), 2.2, or 4.4 kg·ha−1 Zn. Leaf gas exchange and SPAD were measured on one occasion in the 2012 growing season, four in 2013, and five in 2014. Soil Zn-EDTA applications significantly increased the leaf tissue Zn concentration throughout the study. On all measurement occasions, net Pn was significantly increased by soil-applied Zn EDTA compared with the control, but Pn was not different between the two soil-applied Zn-EDTA treatments. Leaf Pn in midseason did not increase at leaf tissue Zn concentrations above 14–22 mg·kg−1. Leaf SPAD consistently followed a similar pattern to Pn. Soil Zn-EDTA application increased leaf stomatal conductance (g S) compared with the Control early through midseason but not after August. Intercellular CO2 concentration was significantly lower for Zn-EDTA-treated trees than the Control even on dates when there was no significant difference in g s, which suggests that soil application of Zn-EDTA alleviated nonstomatal limitations to Pn caused by Zn deficiency.