Plant and Soil

, Volume 119, Issue 2, pp 305–314 | Cite as

Drip nitrogen fertigation of ‘Starking Delicious’ apple trees

  • I. Klein
  • I. Levin
  • B. Bar-Yosef
  • R. Assaf
  • A. Berkovitz


The response of ‘Starking Delicious’ (Malus domestica Borkh.) apple trees to four N fertigation treatments in drip irrigation (50, 150, 250 and 400 kg N ha−1, supplemented with a uniform dose of 400 kg K ha−1) was investigated in a field experiment during 6 years.

Nitrate nitrogen in the soil was proportional (7–58 mg kg−1) to the applied N dose at the end of a 6 week fertigation period in the spring. At other times, the nitrate concentration in the soil was very low. Soil K decreased with depth and in the 0–30 cm soil layer it was negatively correlated with the applied N dose, before fertigation started. At the end of the spring fertigation period, higher K was found in all soil layers analyzed.

Vegetative growth was correlated positively with the amount of N applied. Leaf chlorophyll and N were significantly lower only in the lowest N treatment, while increased fruit size and decreased fruit color were measured only in the higher N treatments. Yield was severely biennial. In the ‘On’ years crop load was heavier as less N was applied. An extremely high crop load in the lowest N treatment was followed by a reduced flower density and yield in the following season. In the ‘Off’ years, a significantly higher yield was obtained with the 150 kg ha−1 dose. The dry weights, N, P and K contents of the above ground parts of mature apple trees were determined.

Key words

chlorophyll fruit size harvest date leaf analysis nitrogen fertilization soil analysis spur vegetative growth yield 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. Klein
    • 1
  • I. Levin
    • 2
  • B. Bar-Yosef
    • 2
  • R. Assaf
    • 1
  • A. Berkovitz
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of HorticultureAgricultural Research Organization, The Volcani CenterBet DaganIsrael
  2. 2.Institute of Soils and WaterAgricultural Research Organization, The Volcani CenterBet DaganIsrael
  3. 3.ShaalGolan HeightsIsrael

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