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  • Author or Editor: Maria Eloisa Q. Reyes x
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Papaya (Carica papaya L.) leaves are large, up to 70 cm wide, and frequently deeply lobed, with seven to 13 major veins. The scan width of current handheld digital leaf area instruments is generally less than 15 cm. A rapid method is needed to estimate the total leaf area of a plant in the field with leaves at different stages of growth from the apex. The length of the main and side veins of papaya leaves can be used to estimate the area of a single leaf and the total leaf area of the plant. The relationship between main vein lengths and total leaf area was determined for mature leaves from the cultivars Sunset, Line-8, and Kapoho. A simple relationship exists between leaf area and the length of the two main side midribs (L3 and L4): Leaf area (cm2) = −2280 + 87.7*L3 + 55.6*L4 (P > F = 0.0001; r 2 = 0.969), explaining ≈94% of the variation between estimated leaf area and leaf area. The most recently matured leaf is the third or fourth discernable leaf from the apex, with a positive net photosynthetic CO2 assimilation rate and an average area of 2331 cm2 that could fix up to 1.6 g carbon per 10-hour day under full sun. The rate of photosynthesis declined with leaf age, and the overall net photosynthetic CO2 assimilation rate of the plant can be predicted. Following 80% leaf defoliation of the plant, the net photosynthetic CO2 assimilation rate of the most recently matured leaf increased 30% to 50% on days 11 and 19 after treatment when the photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) was approximately half of that on day 15 under full sun when no difference in net photosynthetic CO2 assimilation rate was seen. Fruit removal did not affect the net photosynthetic CO2 assimilation rate. Papaya adjusts its single-leaf net photosynthetic CO2 assimilation rate under lower light levels to meet plant growth and fruit sink demand.

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