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Rongcai Yuan, Ulrich Hartmond and Walter J. Kender

The seasonal abscission response of mature `Valencia' oranges [Citrus sinensis (L.)Osb.] to 5-chloro-3-methyl-4-nitro-1H-pyrazole (CMN-Pyrazole) was examined in relation to young fruit, shoot, and root growth. CMN-Pyrazole dramatically increased ethylene production in fruit and effectively reduced the fruit detachment force (FDF), except in a period of reduced response to CMN-Pyrazole in early May. Root growth was inhibited by trunk girdling, in combination with removal of spring vegetative flushes and flowers, but not by their removal alone. During the responsive period, there was no difference in both ethylene production and FDF of CMN-Pyrazole-treated mature oranges between 1) the unmanipulated trees and those manipulated by either 2) girdling, removal of spring flushes and flowers, or 3) removal of flushes and flowers alone. However, during the less-responsive period, ethylene production in CMN-Pyrazole-treated mature oranges was significantly lower while the FDF was higher from non-manipulated trees than from trees treated by either girdling and removal of flush, or only removal of flush. There was no difference in either ethylene production or FDF of CMN-Pyrazole-treated mature oranges between trees manipulated by girdling and removal of flush, and those by removal of flush alone. Flush growth terminated at least 2 weeks before the onset of the less responsive period. This suggests that the hormones from rapidly growing young fruit may be responsible for the less responsive period.

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Rongcai Yuan, Ulrich Hartmond and Walter J. Kender

Effects of NAA, TIBA, ethephon, and CMN-Pyrazole on fruit detachment force (FDF) of mature `Valencia' and `Hamlin' orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.] fruit were examined in 2000 and 2001. NAA effectively inhibited the reduction in FDF or fruit abscission caused by ethephon when applied to the abscission zone 24 hours before ethephon application, but had no significant effect when applied to the fruit without contacting the abscission zone, or to the peduncle ≈4 cm above the abscission zone. TIBA, an auxin transport inhibitor, decreased FDF of mature fruit and promoted fruit abscission when applied alone as a spray to the canopy or directly to the fruit peduncle. This response was dependent on TIBA concentration. TIBA was more effective when applied in combination with ethephon or CMN-Pyrazole than alone. These results are consistent with our previous data that endogenous auxin concentration in the abscission zone of mature `Valencia' orange fruit is one of the factors controlling the sensitivity and thus the responsiveness of the abscission zone of mature fruit to abscission chemicals. Chemical names used: 5-chloro-3-methyl-4-nitro-pyrazole (CMN-Pyrazole); 2-chloroethylphosphonic acid (ethephon); naphthalene acetic acid (NAA); 2,3,5-triiodobenzoic acid (TIBA).

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Rongcai Yuan, Ulrich Hartmond and Walter J. Kender

Endogenous concentrations of IAA and ABA in the peel, pulp, seed, and abscission zone of mature `Valencia' oranges [Citrus sinesis (L.) Osbeck] were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay from early November 1998 to mid-June 1999. Ethylene production of mature `Valencia' oranges during the same period was determined by gas chromatography. IAA concentrations in the pulp and seed were three to five times lower than those in the peel over the 7-month observation period. IAA concentration in the abscission zone and peel was high from late April to mid-May, the period of less responsiveness to abscission chemicals. ABA concentration in the pulp was low over the entire observation period. ABA concentration in the abscission zone and peel was low during the less responsive period. Ethylene production was always low except for a slight increase during late December and early February. The IAA to ABA ratio was high in the fruit abscission zone during the less responsive period. Fruit detachment force of CMN-pyrazole-treated fruit was positively correlated with the ratio of endogenous IAA to ABA or endogenous IAA, but negatively to endogenous ABA in the fruit abscission zone. These data suggest the balance between IAA and ABA in the fruit abscission zone may be an important factor in determining sensitivity and thereby the response of mature `Valencia' orange fruit to abscission chemicals. Chemical names used: abscisic acid (ABA); indole-3-acetic acid (IAA); 5-chloro-3-methyl-4-nitro-1H-pyrazole (CMN-pyrazole).

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Jacqueline K. Burns, Ulrich Hartmond and Walter J. Kender

The abscission action of two sulfonylureas and one imidazolinone was evaluated in laboratory studies with harvested orange (Citrus sinensis L. cv. Valencia) fruit and greenhouse studies with orange (cv. Hamlin) and grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macf. cv. Marsh) trees. Dipping harvested fruit in 90 mg·L–1 imazameth, 2 mg·L–1 metsulfuronmethyl, or 30 mg·L–1 prosulfuron solutions increased levels of internal ethylene. Internal ethylene concentration was higher when fruit were dipped in 2 mg·L–1 metsulfuron-methyl solutions at low pH. Fruit retained on trees and dipped in 2 mg·L–1 metsulfuron-methyl solutions produced more ethylene than control fruit. Drop of treated fruit began when ethylene production was at a maximum. High temperatures (average 33 °C) suppressed ethylene production and fruit drop of metsulfuron-methyl–treated fruit. The results indicate the importance of environmental conditions in evaluating the potential of sulfonylureas and imidazolinones as abscission agents for citrus. Chemical names used: ±-2-[4,5-dihydro-4-methyl-4-(1-methylethyl)-5-oxo-1H-imidazol-2-yl]-5-methyl-3-pyridinecarboxylic acid (imazameth); methyl 2-[[[[(4-methoxy-6-methyl-1,3,5-triazin-2yl) amino] carbonyl] amino] sulfonyl] benzoate (metsulfuron-methyl); 1-(4-methoxy-6-methyl-triazin-2-yl)-3-[2-(3,3,3-trifluoropropyl) phenylsulfonyl] urea (prosulfuron); N-(phosphonomethyl) glycine (glyphosate); 2-[4,5-dihydro-4-methyl-4-(1-methylethyl)-5-oxo-1 H-imidazol-2-yl]-3-quinolinecarboxylic acid (imazaquin).

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Manuela Zude-Sasse, Ulrich Hartmond, Georg Ebert and Peter Lüdders

Soil flooding reduces partial pressure of oxygen (pO2) in the root zone and often results in a reduction in photosynthesis and growth. In greenhouse studies, rooted stem cuttings of the mango (Mangifera indica L.) rootstock selection 13/1 were exposed to anoxia by saturating the root zone with N2 for up to 52 h. Reduced pO2 in the root zone affected the energy status of the roots and particularly enhanced the phosphorylated and nonphosphorylated pyridine nucleotide charges—the ratio of reduced Nicotinamide-adenine-dinucleotides [NAD(P)H] to total Nicotinamide-adenine-dinucleotide content [oxidized NAD(P)+ plus NAD(P)H]—that drive the redox reaction rates in cell metabolism. Also, the pyridine nucleotide charges in leaves were enhanced, while the photosynthetic rate decreased following reduction in pO2 in the root zone. During up to 4 h of reduced pO2, the ratio of internal CO2 concentration in the mesophyll to ambient CO2 concentration was unchanged. This implies a nonstomatal influence on photosynthesis. In addition, light saturation of photosystem II occurred at lower irradiance (470 μmol·m-2·s-1) resulting in reduced maximum photochemical efficiency below that of the high pO2 controls. After 28 h of reduced pO2, NAD(P) charges in the leaves returned to normal, diminishing its potential effect on net photosynthetic rate.

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Walter J. Kender, Ulrich Hartmond and Jacqueline K. Burns

Fruit of 11 citrus cultivars were evaluated for their response to the experimental abscission material metsulfuron-methyl at 2 mg·L-1 (ppm) active ingredient as an aid to mechanical or hand harvest. Cultivars evaluated included `Ambersweet', `Glen Navel', `Hamlin', and `Valencia' oranges [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.], `Robinson' tangerine (Clementine × Orlando, C. reticulata Blanco), `Sunburst' tangerine [`Robinson' × `Osceola', C. reticulata × (C. paradisi Macf. × C. reticulata)], `Murcott' and `Temple' tangor (C. reticulata × C. sinensis), `Orlando' tangelo (C. reticulata × C. paradisi), `Ray Ruby', and `Marsh' grapefruit (C. paradisi). Six of the 11 cultivars were effectively loosened by sprays of metsulfuron-methyl (`Hamlin', `Valencia', `Orlando', `Murcott', `Temple', and `Ray Ruby'). Addition of an adjuvant (Kinetic, 0.125%) was necessary for abscission activity in fruit and leaves. Trees sprayed with metsulfuron-methyl in combination with an adjuvant had higher percent cumulative fruit drop, higher internal ethylene, and lower fruit detachment forces (FDF) than trees sprayed with metsulfuron-methyl alone. `Sunburst' tangerine responded poorly to the abscission material in the presence or absence of Kinetic. Leaf loss was greatest in trees sprayed with metsulfuron-methyl and adjuvant, intermediate in trees sprayed with metsulfuron-methyl alone, and least in control trees. Twig dieback was observed in trees of `Valencia' orange and `Marsh' grapefruit sprayed with metsulfuron-methyl. The peel of some cultivars had irregular coloration and developed pitted areas after harvest. Although metsulfuron-methyl is an effective abscission agent for mature citrus fruit, further work is needed to more accurately define conditions for its safe and dependable use.

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Rongcai Yuan, Ulrich Hartmond, Angela Grant and Walter J. Kender

Influence of young fruit, shoot, and root growth on response of mature `Valencia' oranges [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck] to the abscission chemical CMN-pyrazole was examined in 1999 and 2000. CMN-pyrazole dramatically increased ethylene production in mature fruit and reduced the fruit detachment force (FDF), except during a period of reduced response to CMN-pyrazole in early May when spring vegetative growth, young fruit of the following year's crop, and mature fruit were all on the trees. Removal of spring flushes, which included spring vegetative shoots and leafy and leafless inflorescences, prevented any young fruit and shoot growth, but did not inhibit root growth. However, trunk girdling in combination with removal of spring flushes not only prevented growth of young fruit and shoots but also inhibited root growth. During the responsive period, there were no differences in either ethylene production or FDF of CMN-pyrazole-treated mature oranges between 1) the nonmanipulated trees and those manipulated by either 2) removal of spring flushes alone, or 3) in combination with trunk girdling. However, during the less responsive period, ethylene production in CMN-pyrazole-treated mature oranges was significantly lower while the FDF was higher in nonmanipulated trees than in trees treated by either removal of spring flushes alone, or in combination with trunk girdling. There was no difference in either fruit ethylene production or FDF between trees manipulated by (2) removal of spring flushes alone, and (3) removal of spring flushes in combination with trunk girdling regardless of CMN-pyrazole application. Shoot growth terminated at least 2 weeks before the onset of the less responsive period. Removal of young fruit increased response of mature fruit to CMN-pyrazole during the less responsive period. This suggests that hormones from rapidly growing young fruit may be responsible for the occurrence of the less responsive period. Chemical name used: 5-chloro-3-methyl-4-nitro-1H-pyrazole (CMN-pyrazole).

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Luis Pozo, Ana Redondo, Ulrich Hartmond, Walter J. Kender and Jacqueline K. Burns

Two formulations of the plant growth regulator dikegulac (2,3:4,6-di-O-isopro-pylidene-α-L-xylo-2-hexulofuranosoic acid), consisting of dikegulac-sodium (Atrimmec) or dikegulac:ascorbic acid (1:1) (DAA), as well as 5-chloro-3-methyl-4-nitro-pyrazole at 200 mg·L-1, were applied as foliar sprays to `Hamlin' and `Valencia' orange trees (Citrus sinensis L. Osbeck) at two dates during the harvest season for each cultivar (11 Nov. and 10 Jan. for `Hamlin', 22 Mar. and 25 May for `Valencia'). Fruit detachment force was evaluated 10 days after application, whereas cumulative leaf abscission was monitored up to 60 days after application. In both cultivars, Atrimmec and DAA at 3,000 mg·L-1 induced moderate fruit loosening when applied at the earlier application date, but fruit loosening improved when applied at the later application date. In `Hamlin', both formulations caused higher leaf abscission when applied at the later date. DAA applications resulted in low leaf loss in `Valencia' regardless of application time, whereas Atrimmec caused unacceptably high leaf loss at either application date. No differences in internal fruit quality were found as a result of any abscission material treatment. The results indicate that DAA could be a promising option to induce fruit loosening in late harvested `Valencia' orange trees with minimal undesirable side effects.

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Ulrich Hartmond, Rongcai Yuan, Jacqueline K. Burns, Angela Grant and Walter J. Kender

Methyl jasmonate (MJ) was tested as a potential abscission chemical to enhance mechanical harvest of `Hamlin' and `Valenica' orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.]. In field experiments, a solution of 1, 5, 10, 20, or 100 mm MJ was applied either as a stem wrap to individual fruit or as a spray to entire trees or canopy sectors. Solutions of 10, 20, and 100 mm MJ resulted in significant and consistent reduction of fruit detachment force and caused fruit drop within 7 to 10 days. Fruit loosening was preceded by an increase in the internal ethylene concentration of fruit similar to that of other experimental abscission compounds. While concentrations of 10 mm and less caused no or negligible phytotoxicity, solutions exceeding 10 mm MJ induced unacceptable levels of leaf abscission.