Orchard Planting Density and Tree Development Stage Affects Physiological Processes of Apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) Tree
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionAgronomy. 2020, 10 (12), . 10.3390/agronomy10121912
One of the most important factors affecting photosynthesis and metabolism is light absorbance by leaves and penetration through the canopy. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of planting density and tree development stages on photosynthetic activity, photosynthetic pigments, and carbohydrates in apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) trees in a combined way. The apple tree, Auksis, was grafted on dwarfing rootstock P 22. Space between rows was 3 m, trees were planted in 2001 in four distances: 0.25 m, 0.50 m, 0.75 m, and 1.00 m. Measurements and leaf samples were taken in the end of May (leaves fully expanded BBCH 20–25), in the middle of July (beginning of apple maturity BBCH 73–75) and at the end of August (harvest time BBCH 87–88) according BBCH—growth stages. Photosynthetic rate was significantly the lowest in the spring and tended to rise until fruit ripening, when it increased up to 19.4% compared to spring. Significantly the highest chlorophyll b and carotene α and β contents were found at the BBCH 73–75. The lowest levels of fructose and sorbitol in leaves were found at BBCH 73–75. The amount of starch accumulated in the leaves increased three times in summer compared to spring. Reduced distance between trees to four times (from 1 m to 0.25 m) showed clear competitive stress, as the decrease of photosynthetic rate (up to 36.4–38.6%) and total starch (up to 37–53%) was observed. The photosynthetic behaviour of apple trees was significantly affected by the development stage during the particular season which is related with physiological changes of metabolites transport and their distribution during fruit ripening and leaf senescence.