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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Kearneysville, West Virginia » Appalachian Fruit Research Laboratory » Innovative Fruit Production, Improvement, and Protection » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #307848

Title: Tree architecture of pillar and standard peach affect canopy transpiration and water use efficiency

item Glenn, David
item Bassett, Carole
item Tworkoski, Thomas
item Scorza, Ralph
item MILLER, S - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)

Submitted to: Scientia Horticulturae
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/24/2015
Publication Date: 3/10/2015
Citation: Glenn, D.M., Bassett, C.L., Tworkoski, T., Scorza, R., Miller, S. 2015. Tree architecture of pillar and standard peach affect canopy transpiration and water use efficiency. Scientia Horticulturae. 187:30-34.

Interpretive Summary: Plant yield and productivity are significantly affected by water or nutrient deficiency. An automated and timely detection of plant stress can mitigate stress development, thereby maximizing productivity and fruit quality. A sensing system was developed and evaluated to identify the onset and severity of plant stress on young apple trees (cultivar ‘Gale Gala’) under five different water treatments in a greenhouse. Sensors were identified that were highly correlated to plant water stress. These results will be used to develop commercial sensor products for orchard systems to monitor plant productivity on a real-time basis in order to improve orchard productivity and fruit quality.

Technical Abstract: The development of productive high density peach orchards is often limited by the excessive vegetative growth of the trees that reduces productivity and quality. Dwarfing rootstocks are not available but upright tree architectures have been developed for high density peach production. The purpose of this study was to determine the water use efficiency of upright pillar and standard architecture peach trees in a production setting in order to understand the factors that differentiate transpiration and water use efficiency of the two tree architectures. There were no differences in vertical leaf area index (vLAI; the vertical interception of light) in 2008 and 2009 but the pillar type had significantly greater vLAI in 2010. The horizontal leaf area indices (hLAI; the horizontal interception of light) were significantly larger for the standard tree architecture compared to the pillar in all years. There was no significant difference in the photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) response of photosynthesis (A) and transpiration (E) for the pillar and standard trees over a range of LAI’s and vapor pressure deficits (VPD) for the three-year period indicating that there was no genetic difference in gas exchange mechanisms between the genotypes of the two tree architectures. For high light conditions, the pillar and standard trees had a similar and non-significantly different E : VPD relationship for hLAI less than 2.25, however, for hLAI greater than 2.25, the pillar had a significantly (P equal to 0.05) greater E than the standard at similar VPD levels due to the decreased leaf area density of the pillar architecture that more effectively distributed light within the canopy. The water use efficiency (WUE):E relationship also demonstrated that E of the pillar can exceed E of the standard without a reduction in WUE. Therefore, the increased illumination and interception of PAR by the pillar canopy will increase both photosynthesis and transpiration at the same WUE as the standard. The present work demonstrated that as pillar growth types are integrated into production systems, more research will be needed to efficiently schedule the water needs of the pillar architecture in order to maximize fruit size and quality due to the reduced hLAI of this tree architecture and the greater illumination of the canopy interior.