Effect of water supply on leaf area development, stomatal
activity, transpiration, and dry matter production
and distribution in young olive trees.
"Australian Journal of Agricultural Research", v. 58
Two-year-old olive trees cv. Cornicabra, trained in a central leader form for hedgerow planting, were grown
outdoors in 45-L weighing lysimeters to evaluate the effect of water supply on growth and development. Four treatments
were established and maintained for 155 days during spring–autumn. Treatment T100 was irrigated to maintain the potting
medium close to water-holding capacity by progressive replenishment of consumption that was measured at weekly
intervals by weighing and recording drainage. Treatments T80, T60, and T40 received 80, 60, and 40%, respectively, of
the water applied to T100. For these treatments, transpiration and leaf area were measured every fortnight. Dry matter in roots, stems, and leaves was measured at the beginning and end of the experiment. Leaf conductance was measured at 09:00 and 12:00 solar time every fortnight and at c. 2-hourly intervals throughout one day each month. Over the experimental period, T100 produced 0.42±0.01m2 leaf area, 319.6±60.4 g dry biomass, and transpired 77.5±1.1 L water. Water stress significantly reduced leaf area development and dry matter production (P<0.05) in T60 and T40, but not in T80. There was no effect on dry matter partitioning to the various organs of the trees or the roots/aerial part ratio. Leaf conductance was more sensitive to water stress than vegetative growth, with significant differences (P<0.05) established among treatments 3 weeks before differences were observed in transpiration. In autumn, transpiration and leaf conductance increased in all treatments independently of soil water status. Over the experiment, transpiration efficiency (TE, g/L) increased with reducedwater supply, with a significant difference (P<0.10) between T100 and both T60 and T40. The study has established that maximum growth of young olive plants can be achieved, without effect on the distribution of biomass between organs, at water supply less than that required to support maximum transpiration.