The relationship between nitrogen (N) status and N uptake capacity has not been assessed in fruit trees. Determination of root uptake capacity by depletion of unlabeled N from external solution is less costly than methods using 15N, but is reportedly not suited for excised root studies due to reductions in uptake rates with time (Pearcy, R.W. et al. (eds). 1989. Plant Physiological Ecology, p. 195. Chapman and Hall. New York.). We tested two hypotheses: I) excised peach root NH4+ uptake rates are constant over several hours exposure to NH4+ solution and 2) excised peach root NH4+ uptake rates are negatively correlated with tree N status. Mature, N deficient, field grown `O'Henry' trees on `Lovell' peach (Prunus persica L. Batch.) rootstocks and growing in Winters, CA received (NH4)2SO4 at a rate of 200 kg N/ha on September 29, 1993. An equal number of control trees received no N fertilizer. Foliar N deficiency symptoms of fertilized trees disappeared within 3 weeks of fertilization. On Nov. 9, 1993 (prior to leaf fall), excised roots were obtained from two fertilized and two unfertilized trees. Root NH4+ accumulation rates per unit root dry weight or root length were constant over 5 hours of exposure to 70 μM NH4+ (initial concentration) for both fertilized and unfertilized trees. Unfertilized tree root NH4+ uptake rates were significantly greater than those of fertilized trees on a root dry weight or length basis. Excised root NH4+ uptake may prove to be a sensitive index of fruit tree N status.
F.J.A. Niederholzer and S.A. Weinbaum
Hilary J. Sampson and S. A. Weinbaum
Extractable soil N may be leached below the plant rooting zone. and into the ground water. Orchards devoid of actively growing winter cover crops are subject to the greatest risk of NO3- leaching during tree dormancy in California. We examined the patterns of KCl extractable NH4+ and NO3-. and potentially mineralizable N (PMN) in the top 10 cm of soil across transects (60 samples, 150 m) in 3 almond orchard systems at 5 phenological stages in 1993. Extractable N was affected both spatially and temporally by management practices (e.g. herbicide or fertilizer application) and soil temperature. PMN did not exhibit local spatial patterns; geostatistical analysis revealed a trend across the transects indicating a larger scale of soil variation. possibly resulting from land leveling. The conventionally-managed orchard without a cover crop demonstrated higher levels of extractable NH4+ and NO3- in the top 10 cm in Feb. and Nov. 1993, compared with orchards managed with organic fertilizers and winter cover crops.
F.J.A. Niederholzer, S.A. Weinbaum, and T.M. DeJong
The interrelationships were studied between local soil N availability, tree N status, and
G.A. Picchioni, S.A. Weinbaum, and P.H. Brown
Leaf retention, uptake kinetics, total uptake (per unit leaf area), export kinetics, and the total export of foliage-applied, labeled B (]0B-enriched boric acid) were determined for apple (Malus domestics Borkh.), pear (Pyrus communis L.), prune (Prunus domestics L.), and sweet cherry (P. avium L.). Foliar uptake of labeled B by shoot leaves was 88% to 96% complete within 24 hours of application. More than 50% of the B retained on shoot leaf surfaces following application was absorbed and exported within 6 hours of application. Genotypic differences in shoot leaf surface characteristics among the species tested greatly influenced the amount of solution retained per unit leaf area. Leaf retention capacity was the primary determinant of the quantity of B absorbed by and exported from shoot leaves following foliar application. On average, apple shoot leaves retained, absorbed, and exported at least twice as much labeled B per unit leaf area as prune and pear shoot leaves and three to four times as much as sweet cherry shoot leaves. The sink demand of nearby, mature apples did not affect the export of labeled B when applied to adjacent spur leaves, but the fruit imported 16% of their total B from the applied solution during a 10-day period. Despite extensive documentation for the immobility of B accumulated by leaves naturally (e.g., from the soil), the B accumulated by leaves following foliage application was highly mobile in all four species tested.
Vito S. Polito, Steven A. Weinbaum, and Tom T. Muraoka
Experiments were conducted to determine if differential responses of walnut pollen germination to temperature, previously observed to occur among genotypes, were genetically fixed or expressions of phenotypic plasticity representing adaptive responses to temperatures experienced during pollen development. Individual branches of a single walnut (Juglans regia L. cv. Serr) tree were warmed above ambient conditions during the final stages of pollen differentiation by directing a stream of moist, heated air into polyethylene enclosures, each containing an individual branch unit. Pollen was collected at staminate anthesis and incubated in germination medium on a temperature gradient apparatus. Model curves fitted to the in vitro pollen germination data were used to determine optimum germination temperatures. We found adaptive responses of pollen germination to temperatures experienced during pollen development. The optimum temperature for in vitro germination for pollen from branches maintained under ambient conditions was lower than that of pollen from branches with elevated temperature, and optimum germination temperature increased as a log function of integrated daily temperature (degree-days) experienced during pollen development.
J.L. Saenz, T.M. DeJong, and S.A. Weinbaum
This study was designed to characterize the mechanisms of N-stimulated peach Prunus persica (L.) Batsch productivity. The effects of N fertilization on potential assimilate availability (source capacity) and on the growth capacity of individual fruit (sink capacity) were assessed. On heavily thinned trees, fertilization did not stimulate fruit growth rates relative to those on nonfertilized trees, suggesting that fruit growth rates were not assimilate-limited throughout the period of fruit development. However, N fertilization resulted in a longer fruit development period and increased the growth potential of individual fruit by 20% (fresh mass) and 15% (dry mass) vs. controls. In unthinned trees, N fertilization increased total fruit yield by 49% (fresh mass) and 40% (dry mass) compared to the unthinned, nonfertilized controls. N fertilization increased total fruit yield per tree in unthinned peach trees by extending the fruit development period and thus increasing the amount of assimilate accumulated for fruit growth. The fruit development period was prolonged both by assimilate deprivation associated with increasingly higher crop loads and by N fertilization. Thus, the prolongation of the peach fruit development period by N-fertilization appears inconsistent with the role of N in increasing assimilate availability for fruit growth. We conclude that N fertilization stimulates peach yields by increasing the period for fruits to use assimilates (sink capacity). The effect of N on assimilate availability was not directly evaluated. The timing of fertilizer N availability did not influence fruit growth potential.
S.P. Castagnoli, T.M. DeJong, S.A. Weinbaum, and R.S. Johnson
Premature defoliation of peach and nectarine (Prunus persica L. Batsch) trees resulting from foliar applications of ZnSO4 reduced N remobilization that typically occurs during leaf senescence. Leaf N remobilization in unsprayed control trees ranged from 45% to 50%, irrespective of tree N status. Leaf N remobilization in trees receiving foliar applications of ZnSO4 ranged from a positive influx of N into the leaf to ≈30% of the N remobilized, depending on ZnSO4 application timing and method of expressing leaf N levels. Early ZnSO4 applications resulted in less N remobilization. Measuring leaf N on an area basis was a more precise indicator of N remobilization than N per unit dry weight, because leaf weight per unit area changes during leaf senescence.
F.J.A. Niederholzer, T.M. DeJong, J.-L. Saenz, T.T. Muraoka, and S.A. Weinbaum
Marginally nitrogen (N)-deficient, field-grown peach trees [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch (Peach Group) 'O' Henry'] were used to evaluate seasonal patterns of tree N uptake, vegetative growth, and yield following fall or spring fertilization. Sequential tree excavations and determinations of tree biomass and N contents in Feb. and Aug. allowed estimation of N uptake by fall-fertilized trees between September 1993 and mid-February 1994. Total N uptake (by difference) by spring- fertilized trees as well as additional N uptake by fall-fertilized trees over the spring.summer period was also determined. In fall-fertilized trees, only 24% of tree N accumulation between September 1993 and August 1994 occurred during the fall/dormancy period. Spring- and fall-fertilized trees exhibited comparable vegetative growth, fruit size, and yield despite lower dormant tree N contents and tissue N concentrations in the spring-fertilized trees. Fifty percent of tree leaf N content was available for resorption from leaves for storage in woody tree parts. This amount (N at ~30.kghhhhhhha-1) was calculated to represent more than 80% of the N storage capacity in perennial tree parts of fertilized peach trees. Our data suggest that leaf N resorption, even without fall soil N application, can provide sufficient N from storage to initiate normal growth until plant-available soil N is accessed in spring.
G.A. Picchioni, P.H. Brown, S.A. Weinbaum, and T.T. Muraoka
Estimates of leaflet and fruit macronutrient (N, P, K, Ca, and Mg) accumulation and resorption were developed in six (three heavily cropping, on-year and three noncropping, off-year) mature pistachio (Pistacia vera L. `Kerman') trees over three growing seasons during three stages of phenology [the spring growth flush (April to June); seed fill (late June to September); and leaf senescence (September to November)]. Crop load influenced total nutrient content per tree in annual organs (leaves and fruit), the relative allocation of nutrients between leaves and fruit, temporal patterns of nutrient accumulation in annual organs, and the magnitude of net leaf nutrient resorption per tree prior to leaf fall. In off-year trees, macronutrient accumulation in annual organs (leaves) was concentrated during the spring flush of growth. In contrast, significant macronutrient accumulation in annual organs of on-year trees (leaves plus fruit) occurred not only during the spring flush of growth but also during seed fill. Duration and magnitude of macronutrient accumulation were greater in on-year vs. off-year trees. Fruit N and P demand during seed fill was partially met by a net decrease in the N and P contents of the pericarp. These decreases in pericarp nutrient content during seed fill were equivalent to 32% and 26% of embryo accumulation of N and P, respectively. Fruit demand for N, P, and K during the spring flush of “on” years was accompanied by reduced leaf N, P, and K contents per tree. Net leaf N, Ca, and Mg resorption per tree during leaf senescence differed with crop load. Net leaf N resorption was significantly greater in off-year trees than on-year trees. Leaf N resorption presumably represents an important component of the N pool stored in perennial tree parts during dormancy. The greater leaf N resorption following “off” years was a function of greater leaf N concentration and greater leaf biomass per tree. In contrast, net leaf resorption of Ca and Mg was greater in on-year vs. off-year trees. Experimental validation of the magnitude and periodicity of nutrient uptake by mature pistachio trees is needed during the alternate-bearing cycle, especially in light of the potential contribution of current fertilization practices to groundwater contamination.
S.A. Weinbaum, G.A. Picchioni, T.T. Muraoka, L. Ferguson, and P.H. Brown
The effects of alternate bearing on recovery and loss of isotonically labeled fertilizer N and B and on the accumulation of carbohydrate and N reserves were assessed in mature `Kerman' pistachio (Pistacia vera L.) trees. Total recovery of labeled fertilizer N applied once (in late January) was ≈ 60% greater if applied to trees entering an “off' than an “on” year, with respect to fruiting. Eleven percent more labeled B was recovered in off- than on-year trees. Five times more N (1 vs. 0.2 kg N) was lost from the tree in fruit and senescent leaflets from on- than off-year trees. In dormant trees, 144% and 22% more starch and N reserves, respectively, were present after off than on years. Thus, on-year trees were characterized by a greater reproductive demand for N and carbohydrates, reduced accumulation of C and N (i.e., storage) reserves in perennial tree parts, and reduced recovery of January-applied labeled fertilizer N than off-year trees. As B is absorbed passively, the higher transpiration that may accompany the 43% larger leaf area per tree and the probability of increased root growth probably contributes to its increased uptake during off years. The enhanced labeled N recovery in early spring by trees entering their off year preceded fruit and seed development in on-year trees. The differential tree capacity for nutrient uptake in spring may have been conditioned the previous rather than the current year. The increased uptake of labeled N by trees entering an off year (i.e., emerging from an on year) was associated with lower levels of carbohydrate and N reserves than for on-year trees that had just completed an off year. Future experimentation should assess the comparative capacity for nutrient uptake by on-and off-year trees at other stages of phenology, e.g., during seed development and postharvest.