Response of orchard 'Washington Navel' orange, Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck, to saline irrigation water. II. Flowering, fruit set and fruit growth
H Howie and J Lloyd
Australian Journal of Agricultural Research
40(2) 371 - 380
Flowering, fruit set and fruit growth of 'Washington Navel' orange fruit was monitored on 24-year-old Citrus sinensis trees on Sweet orange rootstocks that had been irrigated with either 5 or 20 mol m-3 NaCl for 5 years preceding measurements.Trees irrigated with high salinity water had reduced flowering intensities and lower rates of fruit set. This resulted in final fruit numbers for trees irrigated with 20 mol m-3 being 38% those of trees irrigated with 5 mol m-3 NaCl. Final fruit numbers were quantitatively related to canopy leaf area for both salinity treatments.Despite little difference between trees in terms of leaf area/fruit number ratio, slower rates of fruit growth were initially observed on high salinity trees. This effect was not apparent during the latter stages of fruit development. Consequently, fruit on trees irrigated with 20 mol m-3 NaCl grew to the same size as fruit on trees irrigated with 5 mol m-3 NaCl, but achieved this size at a later date. Measurements of Brix/acid ratios showed that fruit on high salinity trees reached maturity standards 25 days after fruit on low salinity trees.Unimpaired growth of fruit on high salinity trees during summer and autumn occurred, despite appreciable leaf abscission, suggesting that reserve carbohydrate was utilized for growth during this period. Twigs on high salinity trees had much reduced starch content at the time of floral differentiation in winter. Twig starch content and extent of floral differentiation varied in a similar way when examined as a function of leaf abscission. This suggests that reduced flowering and fruit set in salinized citrus trees is due to low levels of reserve starch, most of which has been utilized to support fruit growth in the absence of carbohydrate production during summer and autumn.
Full text doi:10.1071/AR9890371
© CSIRO 1989