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Bruce D. Lampinen and Kenneth A. Shackel

Two levels of deficit irrigation were applied to mature French prune trees based on gradually declining midday stem water potentials decreasing to –1.5 MPa (moderate stress) and –2.5 MPa (severe stress) by harvest. The moderate and severe stress treatments resulted in 32% and 51% water savings, respectively, compared to the fully irrigated control. The average photosynthetic rate and dry fruit yield for the moderate stress treatment were not significantly lower than those for the fully irrigated control. The severe stress treatment had significantly lower photosynthetic rates from late morning until sunset on most days. However, this lower photosynthetic rate did not result in significantly lower dry fruit yields. There were no significant differences in light interception as measured diurnally or over the course of the season in the first year of the study. However, light interception and photosynthetic differences might be expected to be more pronounced in subsequent years, due to carryover effects.

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Kuo-Tan Li and Alan N. Lakso

Summer pruning increases canopy light penetration and re-exposes spur leaves of the interior canopy of apple trees (Malus ×domestica Borkh.). However, we hypothesized that leaf photosynthetic ability is determined by the pre-pruning light environment, and the re-exposure intensity after summer pruning is incapable of restoring the photosynthesis efficiency of shaded leaves. To test this hypothesis, a commercial-type thinning-cuts pruning was applied to mature central leader `Empire'/M.26 apple trees. Changes in light availability, leaf net photosynthesis (Pn), photosystem II efficiency, and specific leaf weight (SLW) were recorded periodically before and after pruning. Leaf photosynthesis declined slightly through the growing season and was well correlated with pre-pruning light availability until late September. Although Pn decreased more substantially late in the season on exterior leaves than on interior leaves, Pn of leaves in the inner and middle canopies was lower than exterior leaves until late October. Maximum efficiency of photosystem II of dark-adapted leaves, measured by chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/Fm), was not related to prior exposure or re-exposure. Specific leaf weight was well correlated with pre-pruning light availability and with leaf Pn in August but not in October. Results suggested that commercial summer pruning significantly increases light environments in the inner and middle canopies. However, light availability at interior and middle canopy sites was still much lower than exterior canopy and, consequently, leaf photosynthetic ability did not increase after summer pruning.

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C. Campillo, M.H. Prieto, C. Daza, M.J. Moñino, and M.I. García

point (a), gradient (b), and determination coefficient ( r 2 ) of each regression line (y = a + bx) between the percentage of groundcover (PGC) estimated using the area (SA), contour (SC), and reclassification (SR) and canopy light interception (LI

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Jens N. Wünsche, Alan N. Lakso, Terence L Robinson, Fritz Lenz, and Steven S. Denning

Although apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) system yield differences are generally related to whole-canopy light interception, this study tested the hypothesis that these orchard yields are related primarily to total light intercepted by the spur canopy. Seasonal leaf area development of different shoot types, exposed bourse shoot leaf net photosynthesis, fruit growth, whole canopy light interception (by image analysis of fisheye photographs) and relative light interception by different shoot types (by a laser assisted canopy scanning device) were estimated within four 14-year-old `Empire' apple production systems (slender spindle/M.9, central leader/M.7, central leader/M.9/MM.111 and Y-trellis/M.26). The final LAI values were CL/M.7 = 1.8, CL/9/111 = 2.3, SS/M.9 = 2.6 and Y/M.26 = 3.6. Exposed leaf net photosynthesis showed few differences and was not dependent upon the production system. Yields of the pyramidal shaped tree forms were 40 to 42 t·ha-1 while Y-trellis produced 59 t·ha-1, with similar fruit sizes. Again, yields were primarily related to the percentage of light intercepted by the whole canopy, 48% to 53% for conic forms versus 62% for the Y-trellis system. Laser analyses showed that the Y-trellis system intercepted about 20% to 30% more light with the spur canopy than the conic tree forms, supporting the hypothesis. Yields were better correlated with spur canopy LAI and spur canopy light interception than with extension shoot canopy LAI and light interception.

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Jens N. Wünsche and Alan N. Lakso

The study evaluated the relationship of spur vs. extension shoot leaf area and light interception to apple (Malus {XtimesX} domesticaBorkh.) orchard productivity. Fifteen-year-old `Marshall McIntosh'/M.9 trees had significantly greater leaf area and percentage of light interception at 3-5 and 10-12 weeks after full bloom (AFB) than did 4-year-old `Jonagold'/Mark trees. Despite significant increases in leaf area and light interception with canopy development, linear relationships between total, spur, and extension shoot canopy leaf area index (LAI) and 1) light interception and 2) fruit yield were similar at both times. Mean total and spur canopy LAI and light interception were significantly and positively correlated with fruit yield; however, extension shoot LAI and light interception were poorly correlated with yield. In another study total, spur and extension shoot canopy light interception varied widely in five apple production systems: 15-year-old central leader `Redchief Delicious' MM.111, 15-year-old central leader `Redchief Delicious' MM.111/M.9, 16-year-old slender spindle `Marshall McIntosh' M.9, 14-year-old `Jerseymac' M.9 on 4-wire trellis, and 17-year-old slender spindle `MacSpur' M.9. Yields in these orchards were curvilinearly related to total and extension shoot canopy light interception and decreased when total light interception exceeded 60% and extension shoot interception exceeded 25%. Fruit yields were linearly and highly correlated (r 2 = 0.78) with spur light interception. The findings support the hypothesis that fruit yields of healthy apple orchards are better correlated with LAI and light interception by spurs than by extension shoots. The results emphasize the importance of open, well-illuminated, spur-rich tree canopies for high productivity.

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Jens-Norbert Wünsche, Alan N. Lakso, Steven S. Denning, and Terence L. Robinson

A 14-year-old trial of `Empire' apple production systems (Slender Spindle/M9, Central Leaders on M7 and 9/111 interstems, and Y-trellis/M26) had shown significant yield differences that were primarily related to total light interception, but yield of fruit/MJ light interception, however, was still higher in the Y-trellis. The hypothesis tested was that in healthy orchards yields are related primarily tototal light intercepted by the spur canopy. In 1991 seasonal leaf area development, exposed leaf photosynthesis, fruit growth, total light interception (by image analysis of fisheye photos) and relative light interception by different shoot types (by a laser sunbeam simulator) were estimated. The results reflected the mature, spurry nature of these trees. The final LAI values were CL/7=1.8, CL/9/111=2.3, SS/9=2.6 and Y/26=3.6. Exposed leaf photosynthesis showed few differences. Yields of the pyramid forms were 40-42 t/ha while Y-trellis gave 59 t/ha, with similar fruit sizes. Again, yields were primarily related to % total light interception (48-53% for pyramid forms versus 62% for the Y). Laser analyses showed that the Y intercepted more light with the spur canopy than the pyramid forms, supporting the hypothesis. Yields were better correlated with spur canopy LAI and spur canopy light interception than with shoot canopy LAI and light interception.

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Leonardo Lombardini

Twenty-five-year-old `Cape Fear', `Desirable', and `Kiowa' pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) C. Koch] trees were either not pruned, or subjected to single selective or mechanical pruning using a mechanical hedger [or hedge pruning (HP)] in the dormant season 2003. Canopy light interception, yield, and nut quality were monitored during a period of three years. Leaf area index and light interception were significantly affected during the first growing season after treatment application, but after three years canopies grew back to control levels. In general, there were small positive effects observed on yield and nut quality after pruning. Minor improvements were recorded for `Desirable', in which yield was affected positively by both pruning strategies in 2004. However, most effects disappeared by the third year. `Desirable' responded better than `Cape Fear', whereas no beneficial effects were recorded on `Kiowa'. In 2005, yield was significantly reduced in HP trees of `Cape Fear' and `Kiowa'. Alternate bearing index was unaffected by pruning treatment or cultivar. Kernel percentage increased only in HP `Desirable' trees in 2003 and 2004. Kernel quality was improved in HP `Cape Fear' and `Desirable' in the first growing season after treatment application, but not in 2004. In 2005, quality was again improved in HP `Desirable'. The results of the current study indicate that one-time pruning of pecan trees induce positive short-term effect on light, but not necessarily an increase in productivity and nut quality.

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Yahya K. Al-Hinai and Teryl R. Roper

The effect of rootstock on apple size is not clear due to inconsistent results of published studies. This study was conducted over 3 years at the Peninsular Agricultural Research Station near Sturgeon Bay, WI on 6-year-old `Gala' apple trees (Malus domestica Borkh) grafted on Malling 26 (M.26), Ottawa 3, M.9 Pajam 1, and Vineland (V)-605 rootstocks. Fruit diameter was measured weekly. Fruit weight and volume were estimated by a quadratic regression of weekly measurements. Fruit weight was positively correlated with fruit volume. Rootstock had no effect on fruit growth and final size even with the removal of crop load effects. Crop load was a highly significant covariate for fruit size, but canopy light interception and seed count were not. Trees on M.26 EMLA had slightly higher yield in 2000 but rootstock did not affect yield efficiency any year. Rootstock had no influence on fruit quality attributes during 2001; however, in 2002, fruit obtained from trees on Pajam-1 tended to be less firm. Generally, apple fruit size was influenced by crop load and other factors, but not by rootstock.

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Kuo-Tan Li and Alan N. Lakso

Summer pruning is primarily used in apples to increase the light penetration into inner canopy to improve fruit color. However, summer pruning may reduce fruit size. We hypothesize that removing healthy exterior shoots reduces the whole-tree carbon supply in relation to pruning severity. If the crop load (i.e., demand) is high, fruit size and quality will be reduced. The effects of summer pruning on photosynthetic activity and recovery of shaded leaves after re-exposure were monitored on a range of exposures in canopies of `Empire' apple trees. The photosynthetic ability of leaves was positively related to its prepruning exposure. There was little recovery of photosynthetic activity of shade leaves until late growing season, indicating the re-exposure of shade leaves after summer pruning cannot replace the role of exterior leaves removed by pruning. Whole canopy net CO2 exchange (NCER) was measured on `Empire'/M9 trees with a commercial range of pruning severity. Reductions in NCER were approximately proportional to pruning severity and % leaf area removed and were as great as 60% in the most severe pruning. Canopy light interception decreased slightly. The effects on canopy NCER thus appeared to be primarily related to reduced photosynthetic efficiency and secondarily to reduced light interception.

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Michael K. Bomford

Polycultures are thought to offer yield advantages over monocultures when net competition between plants of different species is less than that between plants of the same species. Planting density and crop ratios may both alter these competitive effects. To observe such effects, dicultures of basil (Ocimumbasilicum L.), brussels sprout (Brassica oleracea L.), and tomato (Lycopersicumesculentum Mill.) were grown organically at a range of ratios and densities (1–47 plants/m2) over two field seasons. Relative land output (RLO) values were calculated from field data and from modeled yield-density-ratio surfaces. Both methods showed yield advantages from polyculture at high planting densities (RLO = 2.20 @ top density), but not at low densities. Dicultures offered a 19% yield advantage, on average. Competition for resources was compared by measuring canopy light interception and soil moisture content, showing tomato to be the most competitive crop, followed by brussels sprout, then basil. Diculture yield advantages were most pronounced when individuals of a less competitive species outnumbered those of a more competitive species. Yield advantages were 36% and 20% for dicultures dominated by basil and brussels sprout, respectively.

Dicultures dominated by tomato offered no yield advantage. The results are discussed in terms of the current ecological understanding of plant interactions, and possible advantages to be derived from small-scale intercropping, popularly termed companion planting.