Seasonal variation in leaf damage symptoms, mineral contents, and postharvest attributes of cut foliage of Eucalyptus silver dollar (E. cinerea)

In: Israel Journal of Plant Sciences

Eucalyptus silver dollar (Eucalyptus cinerea) is cultivated under intensive agronomic practices for production of cut foliage branches for the floriculture industry. A range of damage symptoms, suspected to be related to unoptimized mineral nutrition, routinely occur in the leaves at the production plantations and reduce yield quality. No information is available about the nutritional requirements of Eucalyptus silver dollar, or of any other Eucalyptus species under intense cultivation for cut foliage branches production. In this study we evaluated the hypotheses that: (1) leaf damage symptoms in the Eucalyptus silver dollar plantations might be related to the nutritional status of the leaves; and (2) they are affected by environmental and growing conditions, and will therefore differ between seasons and location of the plantations. To test these hypotheses we studied the seasonal and location variations in the ionomics of damaged and healthy leaves, physiological parameters, and postharvest attributes of cut foliage branches during vase life in four plantations of Eucalyptus silver dollar in Israel. The observed leaf symptoms were also characterized anatomically. The range of concentrations for individual macronutrients in the leaves was (in g kg–1): N (18–40); P (1.2–3.0); K (5.5–17.0); Ca (3.5–14.0); Mg (1.1–2.8); S (1.3–2.6). The concentrations range for micronutrients was (in mg kg–1): B (10–100); Fe (30–170); Zn (14–27); Mn (38–190); Cu (3.5–5.9). None of the identified leaf symptoms correlated with a consistent increase or decrease of the content of a specific mineral nutrient or heavy metal compared to the healthy leaves, suggesting that they were not caused by mineral deficiency or toxicity. The leaf ionomics was affected by season and varied between locations. The main damage symptoms observed in the four examined plantations during the four harvests were red and purple spots, and oil stains. Postharvest experiments showed that the quality of branches was reduced during 7–15 days of vase life following transport simulation to the local market. The degree of reduced quality during vase life was also dependent on the location of the plantation and the season of harvest. The oil stains appeared in the two most southern locations during summer, suggesting that this symptom might be derived from the summer conditions such as the high temperatures and high light intensities occurring in the southern part of Israel.

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