Iron deficiency in peach trees: effects on leaf chlorophyll and nutrient concentrations in flowers and leaves
ABSTRACT The effects of iron deficiency on the leaf chlorophyll concentrations and on the macro- (N, P, K, Ca and Mg) and micro-nutrient (Fe, Mn, Zn and Cu) composition of flowers (at full bloom) and leaves (60 and 120 days after full bloom) of field-grown peach (Prunus persica L. Batsch) trees were investigated. Flowers and leaves were taken and analysed from fifty individual trees. Our data indicate that large decreases in leaf chlorophyll concentration were found at the beginning of the season in control trees, possibly associated to a dilution effect by leaf growth, that were later followed by leaf chlorophyll concentration increases. Leaf Fe chlorosis apparently results from two different processes, the dilution of leaf Chl caused by growth and the subsequent inability to produce and/or stabilize new Chl molecules in the thylakoid membrane. Iron chlorosis did not change the seasonal change patterns of any of the nutrients studied. In Fe-deficient trees the K concentration and the K/Ca ratio were high not only in leaves but also in flowers, indicating that this is a characteristic of Fe-deficient plant tissue in the whole fruit tree growing season. Flower Fe concentrations were well correlated with the degree of chlorosis developed later in the season by the trees, suggesting that flower analysis could be used for the prognosis of Fe deficiency in peach.