Leaf potassium concentration, CO2 exchange and light interception in almond trees (Prunus dulcis (Mill) D.A. Webb)

Basile, B.; Reidel, E.J.; Weinbaum, S.A.; DeJong, T.M.

Scientia Horticulturae 98(2): 185-194


ISSN/ISBN: 0304-4238
DOI: 10.1016/s0304-4238(02)00214-5
Accession: 066169443

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The goal of this study was to determine the effect of tree potassium status on CO2 exchange and light interception of field-grown almond trees (Prunus dulcis (Mill) D.A. Webb). Treatments consisted of four levels of potassium fertilization applied for three consecutive seasons. Potassium deficiency negatively affected tree light interception. Defoliation after mechanical harvesting indicated that potassium deficiency accelerated premature leaf senescence and premature leaf abscission. CO2 exchange rates were curvilinearly related to leaf potassium concentration during mid-summer after most vegetative shoot growth was completed. Leaf potassium concentrations less than 0.5-0.6% appeared to limit leaf CO2 exchange rate. Large variations in leaf potassium concentration were found in the non-fertilized trees. Indeed, most of the response curve of leaf CO2 exchange rate to leaf potassium concentration could be described by analyzing the leaves of non-fertilized trees. Stomatal conductance was not affected significantly by leaf potassium concentration and leaves with low potassium concentration had the highest calculated internal CO2 concentrations. Thus it appears that potassium deficiency in almond affected the leaf photosynthetic capacity via biochemical limitations and not through an effect on stomatal conductance. Science B.V. All rights reserved.