How do preharvest applications of nitrogen fertiliser affect branch growth, leaf morphology and fruit, in Mangifera indica (mango) orchards?
The effect of preharvest applications of nitrogen (N) fertiliser to mango trees during the late fruit maturation stage was investigated over 3 years (2012-2014) to determine the effects on canopy growth in 8 year-old 'Kensington Pride' (KP) mango trees grown in Queensland. The experiment consisted of six treatments where 156 g N tree‑1 was applied as a single treatment, as 340 g of urea or split between three different times. The N treatments were 1) 100% of N 2 weeks postharvest (control), 2) 50% of N 2 weeks preharvest, plus 50% 2 weeks postharvest, 3) 65% 2 weeks preharvest, plus 35% 2 weeks postharvest, 4) 35% 4 weeks preharvest plus 65% 2 weeks postharvest, and 5) 65% 4 weeks preharvest, plus 35% 2 weeks postharvest. Vegetative growth was investigated at the branch, sub-branch (shoots), growth unit (GU) and leaf scales. Branches from different aspects (north, south, east and west), in the upper and lower canopy were assessed, and for 2 branch types (apical or lateral) was considered. Fruit counts were also considered at the branch level. Results showed that when 50-65% of the N was applied 2 and 4 weeks before harvest with the balance 2 weeks postharvest, the number of branches, branch length and fruit count increased. When 35% N was applied 4 weeks preharvest with the balance 2 weeks postharvest, only stem biomass was increased. Generally, branches in the upper canopy had longer sub-branches, longer and thicker, first level growth units, shorter leaf petioles and shorter and thinner leaves compared to those in the lower canopy. The SPAD N index was lowest in the northern canopy aspect. Differences were also observed between lateral and apical branches. Lateral branches had longer leaves than apical branches while apical branches had a trend for higher leaf area, stem biomass and leaf counts. There were also negative relationships between fruit count and measurements for stem biomass, leaf count and leaf area for apical branches however for lateral branches these relationships were positive. In summary, when a higher proportion of N was applied 2 or 4 weeks prior to harvest the partitioning of growth to leaves and stem increased while low rates of N applied prior to harvest led to increased stem biomass only. Applications of N 2 or 4 weeks prior to harvest resulted in increased fruit count and more efficient nitrogen use efficiency (NUE), although the relationship between fruit count, and leaf and stem growth was dependent on branch type.
Ibell, P., Maddox, C., Wright, C. and Bally, I. (2020). How do preharvest applications of nitrogen fertiliser affect branch growth, leaf morphology and fruit, in Mangifera indica (mango) orchards?. Acta Hortic. 1299, 123-132
mango, nitrogen, canopy sampling position, vegetative growth