ALTERNATE BEARING AFFECTS NUTRITIONAL STATUS AND NET ASSIMILATION RATE OF AN IRRIGATED OLIVE GROVE UNDER ARID CONDITIONS
Saida BedbabisLaboratory of Environment and Biology of Arid Area, Department of Life Science, Faculty of Sciences, P.O. Box 802, 3018 Sfax, Tunisia
Béchir Ben RouinaLaboratory of Improvement of Olive and Fruit Trees Productivity, Olive Tree Institute, P.O. Box 1087, 3000 Sfax, Tunisia
Salvatore CamposeoDepartment of Agricultural and Environmental Science, University of Bari ‘Aldo Moro’, via Amendola 165/A, 70126 Bari, Italy
Maria Lisa ClodoveoDepartment of Agricultural and Environmental Science, University of Bari ‘Aldo Moro’, via Amendola 165/A, 70126 Bari, Italy
Alessandra GallottaDepartment of Soil, Plant and Food Science, University of Bari ‘Aldo Moro’, via Amendola 165/A, 70126 Bari, Italy
Marino PalascianoDepartment of Soil, Plant and Food Science, University of Bari ‘Aldo Moro’, via Amendola 165/A, 70126 Bari, Italy
Giuseppe FerraraDepartment of Soil, Plant and Food Science, University of Bari ‘Aldo Moro’, via Amendola 165/A, 70126 Bari, Italy
Alternate bearing is a typical behavior of various fruit tree crops and is common among olive cultivars (Olea europæa L. var. sativa Hoffm. e Lk.). Since this phenomenon affects yield and consequently oil production, it is a concern for olive oil industry in order to offer a constant olive oil amount each year. A 4-year field experiment was conducted on cv Chemlali olive trees in ‘on’ and ‘off’ years in order to study, under arid conditions, both annual macro-element balance and net photosynthetic activity. Shoots growth was much higher in the ‘off’ year with respect to the ‘on’ one (+11.70 cm vs. +2.60). Net photosynthesis rate was much higher in the ‘off’ year with respect to the ‘on’ year and the highest values were observed at spring,
when there is an intense vegetative growth. Differences for the mineral elements were observed between the ‘on’ and ‘off’ years. Nitrogen accumulated in leaves mainly in spring in the ‘off’ year, whereas high N values were detected also at the end of summer in the ‘on’ year. Consequently, N fertilization can be accomplished in February–March and possibly after harvest (November–December) to be used at budburst in the successive season. A difference was found between leaf P concentrations in ‘on’ or ‘off’ years from flowering to fruit-set,
with the lowest values in the ‘on’ year, in particular in June–July. A supply of P at autumn–winter and partially in spring–summer in particular in an ‘on’ year would be appropriate. K accumulated in leaves in ‘on’ year from spring to summer, thus a supply of K in January–February, before new vegetation, for trees either in ‘on’ or ‘off’ year can be necessary for supporting and implementing the root system activity and the successive shoot growth (‘off’ year) and fruit development (‘on’ year). These results should be useful to partially reduce,
through an appropriate fertilization schedule, the alternate bearing in olive tree.
Keywords:macronutrients, ‘on’ and ‘off’ year, mineral elements, fruit load
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