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Gerry Neilsen, Peter Parchomchuk, Michael Meheriuk and Denise Neilsen

Various schedules of 40 g N and 17.5 g P/tree per year were applied with irrigation water (fertigation) to `Summerland McIntosh' apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) trees on M.9 rootstock commencing the year of planting. Leaf K concentrations averaged 0.82% dry mass, indicating deficiency, by the third growing season. This coincided with extractable soil K concentrations of 50-60 μg·g-1 soil in a narrow volume of the coarse-textured soil located within 0.3 m of the emitters. The decline in leaf K concentration was reversed and fruit K concentration increased by additions of K at 15-30 g/tree applied either as granular KCl directly beneath the emitters in spring or as KCl applied as a fertigant in the irrigation water. K-fertilization increased fruit red color, size, and titratable acidity only when leaf K concentration was <1%. Fruit Ca concentration and incidence of bitter pit or coreflush were unaffected by K application. NPK-fertigation commencing upon tree establishment is recommended for high-density apple orchards planted on similar coarse-textured soils.

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Henry Taber, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, Shanshan Li, Wendy White, Steven Rodermel and Yang Xu

disorders are correlated with fruit K content ( Perkins-Veazie and Roberts, 2003 ; Trudel and Ozbun, 1971 ). Generally, K fertilization for maximum yield is also adequate for high color development in standard tomato cultivars ( Besford and Maw, 1975

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Changwei Shen, Yifei Ding, Xiqiong Lei, Peng Zhao, Shuo Wang, Yangchun Xu and Caixia Dong

fruit K concentration decreased sharply with the increase of fruit size during expansion stage to maturation, which suggested that strong K supply was demanded by fruit. Balanced fertilization is an efficient measure to increase the yield and quality of

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Bruce W. Wood, Lenny Wells and Frank Funderburke

symptoms occurring in basal leaflets of associated compound leaves and shoots. The observation that elevation of fruit K concentration reduces fruit drop implies a regulatory role for K in regard to abscission physiology with an endogenous fruit

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F.J.A. Niederholzer, R.M. Carlson, K. Uriu, N.H. Willits and J.P. Pearson

A study was undertaken to determine the seasonal dynamics of leaf and fruit K content and the influence of tree K status and fruit growth on leaf and fruit K accumulation rates in French prune (Prunus domestics L. cv. d'Agen). Mature trees in a commercial orchard were treated with various rates of K2 SO4. (O to ≈20 kg/tree) in the fall. Fruit dry weight yield per tree at harvest and fruit K content were higher for high-K trees, but fruit percent K (by dry weight) was ≈1.0% for all trees. Leaf scorch and subsequent abscission severely reduced the canopy of K-deficient trees. Significant positive linear relationships between leaf and fruit K accumulation rates existed for the periods of 28 Apr.-28 May (May) and 28 May-7 July (June). A significant negative linear relationship existed between these two criteria from 7 July-3 Aug. (July). May (0.237 mg K per fruit-day) and July (0.267 mg K per fruit-day) mean fruit K accumulation rates were similar, but both were significantly higher (P = 0.001) than those for June (0.140 mg K per fruit-day). Mean leaf K accumulation rates for May (- 0.007 mg K per leaf-day) and July (-0.010 mg K per leaf-day) were similar, but both were significantly (P = 0.001) less than for June (0.005 mg K per leaf-day). Potassium per fruit accumulation was highest in trees with highest K status. Periods of net leaf K efflux and influx did not precisely correlate with fruit growth stages measured by fruit dry weight. The period of lowest fruit K accumulation (28 May-7 July) coincided with the period of maximum dry matter accumulation by the kernel. After 7 July, all increases in fruit dry weight and K content were due to mesocarp growth.

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S.A. Weinbaum, F.J.A. Niederholzer, S. Ponchner, R.C. Rosecrance, R.M. Carlson, A.C. Whittlesey and T.T. Muraoka

Four adjacent heavily cropping 12-year-old `Petite d'Agen' prune (Prunus domestica L.) trees were selected, and two of the trees were defruited in late spring (28 May) after the spring growth flush and full leaf expansion. Trees received K daily through the drip-irrigation system, and 15N-depleted (NH4)2SO4 was applied twice between the dates of defruiting and fruit maturation. Trees were excavated at the time of fruit maturity (28 July) and fractionated into their component parts. The following determinations were made after tree excavation and sample processing: tree dry weight, dry weight distribution among the various tree fractions (fruit, leaves, roots, trunk, and branches), tree nutrient contents, within-tree nutrient distribution, total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNCs), and recovery of labeled N. Trees only recovered ≈3% of the isotopically labeled fertilizer N over the 6-week experimental period. Heavily cropping trees absorbed ≈9 g more K per tree (17% of total tree K content) during the 2-month period of stage III fruit growth than defruited trees. The enhanced K uptake in heavily cropping trees was apparently conditioned by the large fruit K demand and occurred despite greatly reduced levels of starch and TNCs relative to defruited trees. Fruit K accumulation in heavily cropping trees was accompanied by K depletion from leaves and perennial tree parts. Except for K, fruited and defruited trees did not differ in nutrient content.

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G.H. Neilsen, D. Neilsen, L.C. Herbert and E.J. Hogue

A split-plot experimental design was imposed in the year of planting and maintained for the first five growing seasons in a high density apple orchard on M.9 rootstock planted at 1.5 m (within row) × 4 m (between row) in a loamy sand soil susceptible to K deficiency when drip-irrigated. Four N-K fertigation treatments involving low (N1) and high (N2) rates of N combined with 0 (K0) or 15 g K/tree per year (K1) were applied in five replicated and randomized main plot units. Subplots consisted of three-tree plots of each of the apple cultivars Gala, Fuji, Fiesta and Spartan. Soil solution monitoring indicated the maintenance of distinctly different soil solution N and K concentrations in the respective N-K treatments during the study. The most important plant response was prevention of the development of K deficiency by the K1-fertigation treatment. Fertigation of 15 g K/tree generally increased leaf K, fruit K and Mg concentrations, fruit size and yield and fruit titratable acidity and red coloration at harvest for all cultivars. K fertigation also decreased leaf Mg and B concentrations, fruit N, P and Ca concentration and fruit firmness. In addition to leaf K concentrations <1%, K deficiency was associated with fruit K concentrations <100 mg/100 g fresh weight and soil solution K concentration <5 mg·L-1. Increasing the rate of fertigated N when growth was constrained by K deficiency increased leaf N and Mn and decreased leaf P and B, but had no effect on tree vigor or fruit production and quality.

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S.M. Southwick, W. Olson and J. Yeager

Soil applied potassium (K) may not alleviate K deficiency in fine textured California soils when high numbers of prunes per tree are produced leading to leaf necrosis and limb death. Because K demand is increased by fruit, K nitrate (KN) sprays appear to be a corrective option for growers in this situation. Our objectives were to determine best seasonal KN spray liming strategies to minimize K deficiency, quantify K uptake into leaves after spray and to evaluate spray effects on productivity. Results indicated that regardless of spray timing leaf K was increased by approximately 0.3% and three weeks later decreased 0.2%. Average leaf K in sprayed trees was 0.7% higher than untreated trees at harvest. Fruit fresh to dry weight ratios were lower (better) from summer sprayed trees than spring. Summer KN sprayed trees had yield efficiencies equal to those having soil applied K. Fruit size was similar regardless of K application method. Foliar KN sprays may be a viable K augmentation to soil application in heavy crop years on fine textured soils.

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T.K. Hartz, P.R. Johnstone, D.M. Francis and E.M. Miyao

The effect of K fertigation through subsurface irrigation lines on processing tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) fruit yield and quality was evaluated in four field trials in California from 2002–04. Fields had exchangeable soil K between 0.48 to 0.85 cmol·kg–1, with high exchangeable Mg (10.6 to 13.7 cmol·kg–1) and a history of yellow shoulder (YS, a fruit color disorder) occurrence. K treatments evaluated included seasonal amount applied (0 to 800 kg·ha–1), fertigation method (continuous versus weekly), and timing (early, mid or late season); foliar K treatments were also included in the 2002 trial. In two fields total and marketable fruit yield were significantly increased by K fertigation, and fruit color improvements were observed in all trials. Among color parameters improved by K fertigation were YS incidence, blended color, and L*, chroma, and hue of the shoulder region of fruit. K fertigation did not affect fruit soluble solids concentration. Yield increased only with fertigation treatments initiated during early fruit set. The effects of fertigation method and rate were inconsistent. Foliar K application was ineffective in increasing either fruit yield or quality.

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T.K. Hartz, R. Mullen, M. Cahn and G. Miyao

Trials were conducted in nine commercial processing tomato fields in California from 1994 to 1995 to assess the effects of potassium fertilization on fruit yield and quality. Sites were selected to represent a range of ammonium acetate extractable soil K levels (91 to 284 mg·kg–1, top 30 cm) and K release rates (K at 1.8 to 8.5 mg·kg–1·d–1). Potassium was applied in furrow or drip irrigation during the fruit bulking stage at seasonal rates from 90 to 135 kg·ha–1. Significant yield increase (4% to 24%) was observed at three of the four sites with extractable soil K <125 mg·kg–1 (K released at <3.1 mg·kg–1·d–1); no yield response was observed at the five sites with greater soil K supply. Fruit color and soluble solids content was unaffected by K fertilization at any site. Additionally, red fruit of two cultivars (`Halley' and `Heinz 8892') were collected from 80 commercial fields in 1995 and evaluated for soluble solids content, color (of a comminuted sample as well as visual ranking of internal and external ripening disorders), and tissue K concentration. Fruit K concentration was poorly correlated with any quality characteristic. We conclude that yield response to K fertilization can be adequately predicted by either soil test method and that K supply plays a relatively minor role in tomato fruit quality under representative field conditions.