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Tree Physiol. 1994 Oct;14(10):1177-89.

Effects of soil water deficit on gas exchange characteristics and water relations of orchard lychee (Litchi chinensis Sonn.) trees.

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Tropical Fruit Research Station, NSW Agriculture, PO Box 72, Alstonville NSW 2477, Australia.


Eight-year-old lychee (Litchi chinensis Sonn.) trees, cv. 'Bengal,' growing in krasnozem soil were subjected to soil water deficit from one month before flowering until harvest by covering the ground with polyethylene sheeting and withholding irrigation. The ratio of daytime stomatal conductance of unirrigated to irrigated trees decreased 20% during the three months of increasing water deficit. Predawn leaf water potentials of irrigated trees averaged about -0.3 MPa throughout the period, whereas they declined progressively to -0.9 MPa in unirrigated trees. Minimum daytime leaf water potential in the unirrigated trees decreased from -1.0 to -1.1 MPa at the beginning of the drought period to -2.2 to -2.4 MPa after three months, and calculated whole-plant conductance did not change with decreasing availability of water. The calculated soil-root water potential declined to less than -1.0 MPa in unirrigated trees. Capacitance effects on the relationship between leaf water potential and transpiration were significant only at low transpiration rates. Although unirrigated trees reduced soil water content at 0-30 cm depths to an equivalent water potential of -1.0 MPa, fruit shedding was significantly less than in irrigated trees. Water deficit had no effect on the fresh weight of pericarp, but caused increased seed size and decreased fresh weight of flesh, resulting in fruit from unirrigated trees being 16% lower in total fresh weight per fruit than fruit from irrigated trees.

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