Leaf Angle as a Criterion for Optimizing Irrigation in Forest Nurseries: Impacts on Physiological Seedling Quality and Performance after Planting in Pots
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da Silva, Richardson Barbosa Gomes [UNESP]
Simões, Danilo [UNESP]
do Prado, Débora Zanoni [UNESP]
Sartori, Maria Márcia Pereira [UNESP]
Bertholdi, Angelo Albano da Silva [UNESP]
da Silva, Magali Ribeiro [UNESP]
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Seedling species with different architectures, e.g., mean leaf angles, are often subjected to the same irrigation management in forest nurseries, resulting in wasted water and fertilizer and reduced seedling quality. We aimed to evaluate whether irrigation volumes applied to tree seedling species with different leaf angles affect the physiological quality in forest nurseries and, consequently, performance after potting. We submitted nine seedling species with different mean leaf angles to four daily water regimes (8, 10, 12, and 14 mm). In the nursery, the following physiological attributes were considered to assess seedling quality: leaf water potential, daily transpiration rate, SPAD value, chlorophyll a and b, anthocyanins, carotenoids, and total nutrient content. After potting, we evaluated height and stem diameter over 120 days. Leaf angle can be used as a criterion for optimizing irrigation in forest nurseries, avoiding water and fertilizer wastage, and increasing physiological seedling quality. Leaf angle measurements combined with concurrent assessments of leaf traits are helpful in further understanding the effects of leaf angle variation and water regime on seedling quality. For positive leaf angles, an irrigation volume of 8 mm is sufficient to increase physiological seedling quality. Conversely, seedlings with negative leaf angles show the opposite response, requiring the largest irrigation volume (14 mm) to increase physiological seedling quality, except when the mean leaf area is small and concentrated in the upper half of the stem, which facilitates the access of irrigation water to the substrate and thus satisfies seedling water requirements. For all species, up to 120 days after planting in pots, the effect of the irrigation volume that provides greater growth and physiological quality at the end of the nursery phase is not overcome by other irrigation volumes applied.
forest restoration, leaf pigment content, leaf water potential, overhead microsprinkler irrigation, total nutrient content, transpiration
Forests, v. 14, n. 5, 2023.