Nitrogen Management for Improving Root and Shoot Components of Young Arbequina Olives Academic Article uri icon


  • The impact of nitrogen application on the growth of olive trees has been well studied. However, little is known about the role of levels and forms of N on the development of roots and physiological traits during establishment of young trees. The objective of this 2-year study was to evaluate the influence of N source and level on shoot morphology (tree height, stem diameter, and branch number) and physiology [leaf area and fresh weight, photosynthesis (Pn), transpiration (E), and stomatal conductance (gs)], root components (length, diameter, surface area, and fork number) and N content of young olive (Olea europaea cv. Arbequina) cuttings. Three-month-old olive cuttings were planted in 15-L pots filled with a growing substrate composed of peatmoss + bark + sand (2:1:1/by volume) and placed in a screen house. Two N levels, 2.8 and 5.6 g/tree, and control (0 N) and four N sources, calcium nitrate (CN, 12%N, 17%Ca+2), ammonium nitrate (AN, 35%N), urea (46%N), and the slow-release Osmocote (OSC, 18%N, 6%P, 12%K) were evaluated. Effects of low (2.8 g/tree) and high N (5.6 g/tree) levels on shoot components (plant height, diameter, branch number, leaf area, and fresh weight) and gas exchange (Pn, gs and E) were similar implying that the low rate of N was adequate for the establishment of young olive cuttings. Nitrogen sources, particularly AN and CN had significant effects on shoot and root morphology, physiology, and leaf and root N concentration. In fact, AN and CN were the best fertilizer sources for olive transplants in term of root and shoot growth. Overall, 2.8 g/tree N level and AN or CN sources were the best treatments for newly established olive Arbequina trees. Root components treated with high N rate (5.6 g/tree N) using the slow-release fertilizer (OSC) was similar to those treated with the low AN rate (2.8 g/tree N). Therefore, for nursery containerized olive trees of Arbequina or other cultivars with comparable growth rates, we recommend to apply the CN or AN source at 2.8 g/tree N or the controlled-released fertilizer OSC at 5.6 g/tree N.

published proceedings

  • HortScience

author list (cited authors)

  • Leskovar, D., & Othman, Y. A.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Leskovar, Daniel||Othman, Yahia A

publication date

  • January 2019