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Michael V. Mickelbart

Consistent evaluation of nursery crop nutrient status within and among plots and years requires careful consideration of leaf collection practices. The objectives of this study were to determine the differences and variability among leaf age and cardinal position within the tree. Another objective was to determine if petioles should be included in leaf samples. Leaves were collected from seven trees of the Freeman maple (red–silver maple hybrid) Celebration® (Acer ×freemanii) from two leaf ages (early- and late-season leaves) and four positions (north, south, east, and west). On the south side of each tree, samples were separated into lamina, petiole, or lamina + petiole samples. Leaf traits were not different among positions, except that leaves on the north side of the tree had a lower specific leaf weight (SLW). Leaf nitrogen (N) was slightly lower on the north and west sides of the tree and leaf calcium (Ca) was highest on the south side of the tree, but otherwise position (i.e., side of the tree) had very little effect on leaf nutrient concentrations. Older leaves (leaves produced early in the season) were darker green and had a higher leaf area, longer petiole length, and lower SLW. Older leaves also had higher concentrations (on a mass basis) of all nutrients analyzed. Petiole concentrations of Ca, magnesium, and manganese were higher than lamina concentrations, whereas concentrations of N, sulfur, iron, zinc, boron, copper, and aluminum were all higher in the lamina. These differences, however, did not affect nutrient analyses conducted on samples consisting of lamina + petiole or lamina only. Variation within samples was lowest on the east and south sides for macro- and micronutrients, respectively, in late-season leaves. Based on the relative variation within samples, samples for nutrient analysis of red maple and red maple hybrids should consist of leaves collected from the southeast side of the tree and can consist of samples with or without petioles attached to the lamina.

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Michael V. Mickelbart and Mary Lu Arpaia

Effect of salinity (1.5, 3.0, 4.5, or 6.0 dS·m-1) on growth and physiology of 1-year-old `Hass' avocado (Persea americana Mill.) trees on one of three rootstocks, `Thomas', `Toro Canyon', or `Duke 7', was investigated to determine the relative salinity tolerance of these rootstocks and to determine possible reasons for any observed differences in tolerance. Leaves of trees on `Thomas' rootstock had the highest leaf Na+, Cl-, and necrosis compared to trees on the other two rootstocks. Exposure to salinity resulted in decreased growth of shoots on all rootstocks, but was greatest on `Thomas' and least on `Duke 7'. The oldest leaves on all rootstocks had the highest proportion of leaf necrosis, whereas younger leaves exhibited almost no necrosis. Salinity reduced net CO2 assimilation (A) and chlorophyll concentrations of scion leaves on all rootstocks, but more in older leaves than in younger leaves. Although the effects of salinity on A were greater for trees on `Thomas' on one measurement date, overall, rootstock differences in A were not significant for any leaf age. Differences in response to salinity among rootstocks were noted primarily in morphological traits such as growth and leaf necrosis, rather than physiological traits such as gas-exchange and water relations. Based on overall growth and physiological response to salinity, trees on `Thomas' performed poorest, whereas trees on `Duke 7' exhibited the greatest salt tolerance. The relative tolerance of the various rootstocks appeared to be due primarily to their ability to exclude Na+ and Cl- from the scion.

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Michael V. Mickelbart and Thomas E. Marler

Sapodilla [Manilkara zapota (L.) Royen], reportedly tolerant of saline conditions relative to other tropical fruit species, was studied in sand culture under greenhouse conditions to examine the physiology of sapodilla trees exposed to NaCl and to aid in determining the basis for this apparent tolerance. Treatments, consisting of a complete nutrient solution of 1 dS·m–1 (control) or this solution amended to 12 or 20 dS·m–1 with NaCl, were administered from 16 Nov. 1991 until 29 Jan. 1992. Net CO2 assimilation (A) of plants receiving NaCl gradually decreased relative to that of the control plants. At the end of 8 weeks of salinity, A of plants receiving 12 or 20 dS·m–1 was 72% or 31% of control plants, respectively. Substrate NaCl reduced apparent quantum yield, photosynthetic CO2-use efficiency, leaf osmotic potential, and predawn xylem potential of sapodilla leaves. Dark respiration and the variable: maximal chlorophyll fluorescence ratio were not influenced by NaCl. Exposure to NaCl also increased leaf tissue Na+ and Cl concentrations and the Na+: K+ ratio. These results indicate that gas exchange of sapodilla is relatively low for woody evergreen species. Moreover, sapodilla may not be as tolerant of salt stress as previously reported. The responses of sapodilla to root zone NaCl were consistent with other woody perennial glycophyte species. Photochemical efficiency of leaves on plants receiving NaCl was not different from that of leaves on control plants for >8 weeks after NaCl reduced gas exchange.

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Thomas E. Marler and Michael V. Mickelbart

The influence of drought stress on leaf gas exchange and chlorophyll fluorescence characteristics of field-grown papaya (Carica papaya L.) plants was determined under a range of incident light fluxes and times of day. These data may aid in improving management systems for papaya production which minimize detrimental effects from suboptimal environmental conditions. Water was withheld from field-grown `Red Lady' plants in one study and `Tainung #2', `Red Lady', and `Sunrise' plants in a second study until soil matric potential was -60 to -70 kPa. Drought-stressed plants exhibited reduced net CO2 assimilation (ACO2) above light saturation, photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) at which light saturation for ACO2 occurred, and apparent quantum yield compared to well-watered plants. The light compensation point of drought-stressed plants was greater than that of well-watered plants. Leaf chlorophyll fluorescence characteristics were not influenced by drought stress. The daily pattern of leaf gas exchange was dependent on climatic conditions. For sunny days, ACO2, stomatal conductance of water (gs), and water use efficiency of well-watered plants were maximal at mid-morning, declined during midday, and then partially recovered during late afternoon. In drought-stressed plants, leaf gas exchange was relatively constant after a brief early morning maximum. On overcast days, the responses of gas exchange variables in relation to time of day followed smooth bell-shaped patterns regardless of the level of drought stress. Combined with previously published data, these results indicate that the influence of drought stress on gas exchange is highly dependent on time of day, ambient sky conditions, plant size, and speed with which drought stress occurs.

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Thomas E. Marler and Michael V. Mickelbart

Long-term effects on stomatal conductance of mechanical stress from repeated clamping of a porometer leaf cuvette to laminae of avocado (Persea americana Miller), carambola (Averrhoa carambolu L.), hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L.), mango (Mangifera indica L.), and sugar apple (Annona squamosa L.) plants were determined under glasshouse conditions. Following 10 weeks of applying the mechanical stimulus seven times during every 4th day to mature leaves, stomatal conductance was lower than for untreated leaves of all species except mango. Similarly, following 10.5 weeks of applying the stimulus one time every 4th day to expanding leaves of avocado, carambola, hibiscus, and sugar apple, stomatal conductance was lower than for untreated leaves of the same age in all species except hibiscus. Carambola and sugar apple were more sensitive to the mechanical stress than the other species. Thus, the indirect effect of leaf chamber clamping on gas exchange should be known before any conclusions are formulated regarding environmental, cultural, or genetic effects on gas exchange. Random leaf samples from a canopy instead of measurements on a fixed set of leaves may be more appropriate for repeated determinations of leaf gas exchange on a set of plants.

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Thomas E. Marler and Michael V. Mickelbart

Growth response of containerized carambola (Averrhoa carambola L.) seedlings to GA applied to trunks in lanolin paste were studied under glasshouse conditions. Gibberellic acid at 0, 250, 500, or 750 mg·liter and an untreated control (no lanolin) were used. Internode length and increases in plant height and trunk cross-sectional area (TCA) did not differ for control and 0 mg·liter plants, but mostly increased with concentration of GA. Increase in TCA was determined in a second study with control and treated plants, using 500 mg GA/liter. Mean recommended graftable size (7 mm) was reached in 47 days in plants that were GA treated, and 93 days in control plants, suggesting that GA may be used to shorten nursery time for producing graftable carambola seedlings. Chemical name used: gibberellic acid (GA.,+,).

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Michael V. Mickelbart and Mary Lu Arpaia

Salinity effects on `Hass' avocado was studied on three rootstocks, `Thomas' (TH), `Toro Canyon' (TC), and `Duke 7' (D7). Four levels of salinity (1.4, 3.0, 4.5, and 6.0 dS·m–1) were applied to 1-year-old trees grown in sand culture for 10 weeks. Increased salinity resulted in decreased trunk cross-sectional area and reduced shoot growth. Specific leaf area and dry weight decreased linearly with increased salinity. TH was significantly more affected than TC of D7. Leaf necrosis was also greatest in TH. Older leaves had the highest percentage of leaf necrosis, while younger leaves of TH exhibited symptoms only in the 6.0 dS·m–1 treatment. TH had the highest Cl leaf levels. TC maintained the lowest Na levels in the scion plant organs, indicating an ability to sequester Na in the rootstock. TC also had the lowest Na:K ratio in leaf tissue, indicating that TC can utilize K as an osmoticum. Predawn xylem potential decreased linearly with increased salinity in all rootstocks. Leaf osmotic potential decreased with increased salinity; however, leaf age moderated the response, indicating an adjustment to the stress. No rootstock differences were observed. Net CO2 assimilation (A) decreased with time only in trees exposed to 4.5 or 6.0 dS·m–1. Reduction in A due to increased salinity was less in younger leaves. No rootstock differences were noted. Chlorophyll per leaf area decreased with increased salinity to the greatest degree in TH.

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Ariana P. Torres, Michael V. Mickelbart and Roberto G. Lopez

Well-established protocols exist for using the pour-through extraction method to estimate substrate pH and electrical conductivity (EC) values for small root volumes. However, little work has been done to test the accuracy and consistency of these measurements in large containers. Our objective was to determine if the amount of distilled water applied to #1, #3, #5, and #10 (2-, 8-, 11-, and 27-L media volume, respectively) containers would affect leachate pH and EC values or consistency of measurements. Boxwood (Buxus ×koreana ‘Green Velvet’) was selected for this study because it is a common container-grown nursery crop. Distilled water was poured evenly over the media surface in each container 1 h after irrigation to obtain a leachate volume of either 50 mL or 2.5% of media volume and leachate EC and pH were measured. Media pH values were 0.1 to 0.3 points higher when 50 mL leachate was collected, but the difference was only significant during the first 2 weeks of measurements. There were no consistent differences in pH over container sizes or leachate volume. Leachate EC values were similar when measured in leachate collected as 50 mL total volume or 2.5% of media volume in 8- and 11-L containers. However, in 27-L containers, obtaining 50 mL leachate resulted in higher EC values than when 2.5% media volume was obtained. Both pH and EC values obtained from 50-mL leachate fractions over container sizes were more consistent than when 2.5% of the media volume was collected. Growers should collect 50 mL of leachate to test media pH and EC regardless of container size.

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Mokhles A. Elsysy, Michael V. Mickelbart and Peter M. Hirst

Uniform annual apple (Malus ×domestica) fruit production is highly dependent on consistent flower formation from year to year, as inconsistent flowering can lead to the biennial bearing observed in some high-value cultivars. The presence of fruit on a spur has been considered the main cause of the expression of biennial bearing and the inhibition of flower initiation, with a number of theories being introduced to explain the phenomenon. In the current experiment, individual spurs of annual bearing cultivars (Gala, Ruby Jon, and Pink Lady) and biennial bearing cultivars (Honeycrisp, Fuji, and Golden Delicious) were thinned to a single fruit or completely defruited at petal fall. Spurs were sampled at the end of the growing season. Effects of fruiting on spur characteristics such as spur and bourse leaf area, stomatal density, leaf gas exchange, and flower formation were determined. Across all cultivars, the presence of fruit on a spur did not affect spur characteristics or flower formation compared with nonfruiting spurs. Similarly, flowering was unaffected by those factors associated with greater spur carbohydrate status, such as bourse leaf area and assimilation rate. Cultivars with greater transpiration and stomatal conductance (g s) rates had lower rates of flower formation. Future studies should focus on xylem flow and expression of genes regulating flowering and plant growth regulators in annual and biennial bearing cultivars.

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Thomas E. Marler, Michael V. Mickelbart and Roland Quitugua

Leaves of container-grown papaya (Carica papaya L.) plants were inoculated with papaya ringspot virus (PRV) to determine its influence on dark respiration and photosynthesis. Photosynthetic capacity, apparent quantum yield, ratio of variable to maximum fluorescence from dark-adapted leaves, and photosynthetic CO2-use efficiency were reduced by PRV infection. Internal CO2 partial pressure at ambient external CO2 was not affected, but leaf dark respiration was increased by PRV infection. These results suggest that reduced growth, yield, and fruit quality common in PRV-infected papaya plants is caused, at least partially, by reduced photosynthesis and increased respiration.