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Transpiration from banana leaves in the subtropics in response to diurnal and seasonal factors and high evaporative demand



Transpiration from banana leaves in the subtropics in response to diurnal and seasonal factors and high evaporative demand



Scientia Horticulturae 37(1-2): 129-144



The transpiration (Tr) and stomatal conductance (Cs) time-courses of 'Williams' banana plants were investigated during representative sunny days in spring, summer, autumn and winter at Burgershall, Eastern Transvaal. Time-courses of the same factors were monitored under hot stressful conditions using 'Dwarf Cavendish' bananas at Malelane, South Eastern Transvaal. A standard optimal measuring procedure was developed using uniform parent plants (1.5 m high) and selecting the abaxial surface and proximal third of the third, fourth or fifth youngest leaf, angled directly towards the sun. Soil moisture was maintained at field capacity. Peak Cs was recorded before noon on most days, whereas peak Tr occurred from 13.00 to 16.00 h, except for the summer stress day on which Tr peaked earlier at 11.00 h. The lowest Cs values occurred during winter and the highest in summer (0.48 and 1.59 cm s-1, respectively, at peak Cs). Peak diurnal Tr rate (abaxial surface only) was 31.3 .mu.g cm-2 s-1 in summer compared with 8.8 in winter. Cumulative diurnal Tr losses from experimentally-selected leaves were 8.7 and 1.8 mm day-1 for summer and winter, respectively. Spring and autumn Tr was intermediate. The Tr response to a specific level of evaporative demand varied seasonally, being strongest on a normal summer day (0.969 mm mm-1 Eo) and most restricted in winter (0.605 mm mm-1 Eo). The occurrence of plant water deficits were deduced in winter and during excessive summer heat, as indicated by low Cs, high plant to plant variation in Cs, and leaf temperatures 3-4.degree. C higher than ambient. In winter, internal plant stress at low VPD was related to a non-functional feeder root system, whereas under extremely high VPD, evaporative demand was evidently in excess of the moisture-absorbing capacity of the root system. The results highlight the physiological behaviour of bananas under subtropical environmental extremes. Such information can assist in the evaluation of seasonal irrigation requirements as well as of the ecological adaptability of this crop.

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Accession: 001991694

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DOI: 10.1016/0304-4238(88)90156-2


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