Spatial distribution of Malus root systems in irrigated, trellised orchards
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Root distribution was determined for apple trees [Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill. var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf. 'Fuji'/'M.26' (syn. M. domestica Borkh. non Poir.)] 1, 2 and 3 years after planting in trellised orchards in central Texas. Using a soil-coring method, measurable differences were detected in root-length density (RLD; root length per unit volume of soil) by tree age, soil depth, radial distance from the tree, and spatial bearing within and across rows (P ≤ 0.05). For fine roots (root diameters < 1 mm), mean RLD values were 0.1028, 0.1139 and 0.2911 cm cm-3 for 1, 2 and 3 year-old plantings, respectively. For coarse roots (root diameters 1-5 mm), mean RLD values were 0.0006, 0.0009 and 0.0015 cm cm-3 for 1, 2 and 3 year-old plantings, respectively. Mean RLD values declined for both fine and coarse roots of all ages with increasing soil depth and radial distance from the trunk (P ≤ 0.05). Similar patterns were observed for the number of soil cores containing measurable roots. The percentage of samples with no roots increased with increasing soil depth and distance from the trunk (P ≤ 0.05). When examining fine roots by spatial bearing from the tree, the greatest RLD was found along the drip irrigation lines for the two youngest plantings and along drip irrigation lines and beneath shaded trellises for the oldest planting (P ≤ 0.05). For coarse roots, the greatest RLD was found along the drip irrigation lines for all plantings (P ≤ 0.05). This information is important for predicting the rates and locations of new root growth in orchards after transplanting, so that management techniques (e.g., fertilisation, irrigation, control of soilborne diseases) can be properly targeted and effectively implemented.
author list (cited authors)
Watson, T. W., Appel, N. D., Arnold, A. M., & Kenerley, M. C.