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

established according to the leaf type (sun or shade leaves) and cultivar. Sun leaves were growing on exterior portions of the tree canopy and were exposed to full sunlight for most of the day (southern exposure). Shade leaves were growing in interior parts of the tree canopy.

The study revealed that pecan shade leaves exposed to saturating radiation are about half as effective as sun leaves in assimilating CO2. Light saturation points were lower for shade leaves and steadily increased as the season progressed for both leaf types. The research showed that late-season photosynthetic capacity was maintained in shade leaves, whereas it was reduced to about 60% in sun leaves.

The authors noted that the results of the research may explain why pecan trees can tolerate severe hedging-type pruning and still maintain high productivity in areas characterized by relatively high light regions (such as the southwestern United States and east-central Australia). The authors explained that "the reduction of canopy size caused by hedging likely increases the ratio of sun-exposed leaves to shaded leaves, thus boosting carbon gain per unit leaf area".

Especially noteworthy is the autumn assimilation drop in sun leaves, without a corresponding assimilation drop in shade leaves, which the authors call "a significant finding".

This study provides baseline information relevant to improving management of the orchard light environment, and can be used by commercial pecan producers for developing new, effective canopy and crop management practices.


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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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