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Tree Physiol. 2005 Jun;25(6):761-7.

Relationships between nutrient composition of flowers and fruit quality in orange trees grown in calcareous soil.

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Centro de Desenvolvimento de Ciências e Técnicas de Produção Vegetal, FERN, Universidade do Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal.


To determine if flower nutrient composition can be used to predict fruit quality, a field experiment was conducted over three seasons (1996-1999) in a commercial orange orchard (Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck cv. 'Valencia Late', budded on Troyer citrange rootstock) established on a calcareous soil in southern Portugal. Flowers were collected from 20 trees during full bloom in April and their nutrient composition determined, and fruits were harvested the following March and their quality evaluated. Patterns of covariation in flower nutrient concentrations and in fruit quality variables were evaluated by principal component analysis. Regression models relating fruit quality variables to flower nutrient composition were developed by stepwise selection procedures. The predictive power of the regression models was evaluated with an independent data set. Nutrient composition of flowers at full bloom could be used to predict the fruit quality variables fresh fruit mass and maturation index in the following year. Magnesium, Ca and Zn concentrations measured in flowers were related to fruit fresh mass estimations and N, P, Mg and Fe concentrations were related to fruit maturation index. We also established reference values for the nutrient composition of flowers based on measurements made in trees that produced large (> 76 mm in diameter) fruit.

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