Environmental and endogenous influences on carbohydrate assimilation and allocation of apple trees (Malus domestica Borkh)

Pretorius, Jeremia Jesaja Bierman (2006-04)

Stellenbosch University. Faculty of AgriSciences. Dept. of Horticulture.

Thesis (PhD (Agric))--Stellenbosch University, 2006.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Market preferences for larger fruit have forced producers to adopt cultural practices that will ensure bigger fruit even if this comes at the expense of reduced total yields. In order to obtain acceptable fruit size there must be an adequate supply of photosynthetic carbon products especially during the cell division stage of fruit growth. Competition between fruits and between fruit and vegetative growth, as well as adverse climatic conditions, may limit the carbon supply to the fruits at this critical period and thus limit the final fruit size. Growers are showing renewed interest in the use of girdling or scoring in combination with the usual fruit thinning program to achieve growth control and increase fruit size. A new and milder chemical growth retardant, prohexadione-calcium (ProCa), is now also available for vegetative growth control of apple trees. [n this study, the effects of, and potential interaction between scoring, ProCa and fruit thinning were investigated, with respect to shoot and fruit growth, yield and photosynthetic capacity, in 'Royal Gala" 'Fuji' and 'Cripps' Pink' apple trees. ProCa decreased final extension shoot length in all three cultivars. Extension shoots were generally more sensitive than bourse shoots to scoring and ProCa. ProCa seems to be a more effective way of controlling shoot growth than scoring, with 'Fuji' and 'Cripps' Pink' being more sensitive than 'Royal Gala' to the application of ProCa. Scoring led to increased fruit growth rates during the first 40 days after full bloom (DAFB), and culminated in better fruit size at harvest. Scoring improved the total soluble solids concentration (TSS) of 'Fuji' and 'Cripps' Pink' compared to control and ProCa treatments. ProCa inhibited shoot growth effectively, but no evidence was found for improved carbon allocation to fruits and reproductive buds. Yield efficiencies of scored trees were significantly improved in all cultivars during the second season, due to better reproductive bud development after the first year of scoring. On 'Royal Gala' and 'Cripps' Pink', the efficiency of scoring to stimulate reproductive bud development on old and new spurs declined after 4 weeks after full bloom (WAFB). In 'Fuji', scoring later than I WAFB led to a decreasing positive response on old and new spurs. In contrast, reproductive bud development on long shoots increased with later scoring (6 and 8 W AFB) on all cultivars. It seems that the most beneficial time of scoring is 2-4 W AFB, as early as possible during the cell division stage offruit growth, but not before natural drop has occurred. The combination of early-season scoring and application of ProCa seems to hold potential for increasing carbon allocation to the fruit and improving fruit size and quality attributes. Scoring early in the season reduced photosynthetic capacity, and this reduction in carbon availability led to earlier cessation of shoot growth as well as shorter shoots. Later in the season, reduced fruit numbers led to a decrease in photosynthesis. The optimum temperature range for photosynthesis was found to adjust according to seasonal temperature variations. The harvest-induced reduction in sink strength changed stomatal sensitivity to higher temperature. Due to a reduced demand for carbohydrates by the plant, the maximum rate of photosynthesis (Amax) was reduced post-harvest. Following this reduction in sink strength and Am .. , stomata became more sensitive to high leaf temperatures, thus restricting water loss. Pre-harvest there was a strong demand for carbohydrates, therefore stomata were kept open at higher temperatures to ensure a high rate of C02 incorporation, but at a cost with regard to water use efficiency. The sharp increase in dark respiration (Rd) in leaves and fruit with an increase in temperature would mean that significant carbohydrate shortages could occur in trees during source limited periods early in the season, especially under warm weather conditions commonly experienced in the Western Cape region.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die effek van omgewings- en interne faktore op koolstofproduksie en -allokasie in appelbome (Malus domestlca Borkh.). Mark voorkeur vir groter vrugte forseer produsente om tegnieke te gebruik wat groter vrugte sal verseker selfs al beteken dit verlaagde totale opbrengste. Om aanvaarbare vruggrootte te bereik moet daar voldoende voorsiening van fotosinteties geproduseerde koolstofprodukte aan die vrug wees, veral gedurende die selverdelingstadium van vruggroei. Kompetisie tussen vrugte, en tussen vrugte en vegetatiewe groei sal die voorsiening van koolstof gedurende die kritieke stadium aan die vrug beperk en so vruggroote benadeel. Daar is dus hernude belangstelling in die gebruik van ringelering in kombinasie met die gewone vrug uitdunprogramme om groei te beheer en vruggrootte te verbeter. 'n Nuwe, sagter chemiese groeireguleerder, proheksadioon-kalsium (ProCa) is ook nou beskikbaar vir groeibeheer op appelbome. In hierdie studie is die effekte van, en moontlike interaksie tussen ringelering, ProCa en vruguitdunning ondersoek ten opsigte van loot- en vruggroei en opbrengs, sowel as die effekte op gaswisseling op 'Royal Gala', 'Fuji' en 'Cripps' Pink' appelbome. ProCa veroorsaak korter lote in aJ drie kultivars. Verlengingslote is meer sensitief as beurslote vir ringelering en ProCa. ProCa is effektiewer as ringelering om lootgroei te beheer, en 'Fuji' en 'Cripps' Pink' is sensitiewer as 'Royal Gala'. Ringelering lei tot verbeterde vruggroeitempos gedurende die eerste 40 dae na volblom en verbeterde vruggrootte by oes. Ringelering verbeter die totale oplosbare vastestotkonsentrasie (TOVS) van 'Fuji' en 'Cripps' Pink' in vergelyking met kontrole- en ProCa-behandelings, onderskeideHk. ProCa inhibeer lootgroei effektief, maar geen bewyse van verbeterde koolstomllokasie na vrugte en reproduktiewe knoppe is gevind nie. Opbrengseffektiwiteit van geringeleerde borne verhoog gedurende die tweede seisoen van ringelering weens beter reproduktiewe knopontwikkeling. Ringelering later as 4 weke na volblom (WNVB) is minder effektief om reproduktiewe knopontwikkeling op ou en nuwe spore in 'Royal Gala' en 'Cripps' Pink' te stimuleer. Die positiewe effek van ringelering op reproduktiewe knoppe op 'Fuji' verminder sodra dit later as I WNVB gedoen word. Op langlote het 'n laat ringelering (6 en 8 WNVB) die beste effek op reproduktiewe knopontwikkeling. Die mees voordelige tyd om te ringeIeer was 2-4 WNVB, so vroeg as moontlik gedurende die selverdelingstadium van vruggroei, maar nie voor natuurlike vrugval voltooi is nie. Die kombinasie van vroei! ringelering en die toediening van ProCa het potensiaal om koolstofallokasie na die vrug te verbeter, met die gepaardgaande verbetering in vruggrootte en -kwaliteit. RingeJering vroeg in die seisoen inhibeer fotosintese en hierdie verlaging in koolstof beskikbaarheid het tot gevolg dat lootgroei vroei!r gestaak word. Later in die seisoen veroorsaak verlaagde vruggetalle 'n afname in fotosintese. Die optimum temperatuur vir fotosintese verander na gelang van heersende lugtemperature. Die oes-geinduseerde verlaging in sinksterkte verander stomatale sensitiwiteit vir hoo temperature. Weens 'n verJaagde aanvraag vir koolhidrate deur die plant word fotosintese verlaag na-oes. Weens die verlaging is stomata sensitiewer vir hoer temperature en beperk dus waterverlies. V oor oes is daar 'n hoo aanvraag na koolhidrate dus word stomata oop gehou selfs by hoe temperature ten koste van watergebruiksdoeltreffendheid. Die skerp styging in donker respirasie in blare en vrugte met 'n verhoging in temperature sal beteken dat koolhidraat-tekorte kan ontstaan in bome gedurende die bron-beperkte periodes vroeg in die seisoen, veral onder warm toestande 500S wat algemeen ervaar word in die Wes Kaap.

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