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Sun or shade: Pecan leaves' photosynthetic light response evaluated
Date:11/3/2009

COLLEGE STATION, TXPecan, the most valuable nut tree native to North America, is native from northern Illinois and southeastern Iowa to the Gulf Coast of the United States, where it grows abundantly along the Mississippi River, the rivers of central and eastern Oklahoma, and Texas. Popularity and consumer demand for pecans has increased the cultivation of pecan trees to other areas, while commercial production has expanded into many regions of the United States and Mexico.

Effective management of the tree canopy is of vital interest to pecan growers. Pecan trees require careful canopy management to avoid self-shading and to maintain productivity. Leaves of pecan trees typically intercept 65% to 70% of available sunlight with up to 95% light interception in overcrowded, unpruned orchards; less light naturally affects photosynthesis. To improve the amount of light penetration, pecan growers commonly use pruning techniques to increase photosynthesis and flowering on trees. To date, however, little information has been available to growers about the change in photosynthesis activity of pecan leaves throughout the growing season.

Leonardo Lombardini, Hermann Restrepo-Diaz, and Astrid Volder of Texas A&M University's Department of Horticultural Sciences published the results of an experiment using pecan tree cultivars in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science. According to Lombardini and collaborators, the objective of the experiment was to quantify the effects of differences in light intensity on the "morphological characteristics and seasonal physiological performance of sun and shade leaves of field-grown pecan trees".

The experiment was conducted during the 2007 growing season at Texas A&M University. The cultivars used for the research, 'Pawnee' and 'Stuart', were chosen because of their rank as two of the most important pecan varieties for commercial growers.

Treatments were
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Contact: Michael W. Neff
mwneff@ashs.org
703-836-4606
American Society for Horticultural Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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