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  Eur.J.Hortic.Sci. 80 (4) 155-161 | DOI: 10.17660/eJHS.2015/80.4.2
ISSN 1611-4426 print and 1611-4434 online | © ISHS 2015 | European Journal of Horticultural Science | Original article

Influence of nutrient loading on reactions upon frost and drought stress of Rosa majalis

H. Bohne1, J. Wanjiku1, A.-K. Rathke2, S. Humpert3 and D. Gerhard4
1 Institute of Horticultural Production Systems, Section Woody Plant and Propagation Physiology, Leibniz University of Hannover, Hannover, Germany
2 Sarstedt, Germany
3 Lautenthal, Germany
4 School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Nutrient loading applies more fertilizer compared to non-loading. Conventional loading delivers nutrients to the plants in a more or less constant rate mainly using slow release fertilizer; for exponential loading liquid fertilizer is used increasing exponentially towards the end of the vegetation period. Nutrient loading aims to build nutrient reserves, especially N, in the plants to improve transplanting success. Until now the effect of this fertilization technique on abiotic stress reactions is not known. The reactions of Rosa majalis cultivated for one vegetation period (2010) without loading and with conventional or exponential loading were investigated in early frost (autumn 2010), late frost and drought (spring resp. summer 2011) under controlled conditions. In all treatments, the absolute level of damage, relative electrolyte leakage (REL), was low in early frost. However, relative electrolyte leakage significantly increased at -8°C for the exponentially loaded plants while this was the case only at -16°C for the conventionally loaded and non-loaded plants. Similarly for late frost, REL increased already at -5°C for the exponentially loaded plants and only at -9°C for the non-loaded and conventionally loaded ones. At -5°C the absolute level of damage was low for plants from all treatments and high for -9°C. In both frost experiments, possible cryoprotective compounds like sucrose and glucose in most cases did not differ between the previous fertilization treatments. However, concerning drought reactions, exponentially loaded plants had an advantage compared over conventionally loaded and non-loaded ones in postponing wilting. They closed their stomata earlier and synthesised highest concentrations of proline and sucrose compared to non-loaded and conventionally loaded plants. Possible reasons are discussed. The results indicate that the technique of exponential nutrient loading might be helpful to improve the plants’ ability to perform well after being transplanted to drought prone sites. However, increased frost sensitivity has to be considered as well.

Keywords glucose, proline, relative electrolyte leakage, stomatal conductance, sucrose, stress tolerance

Significance of this study

What is already known on this subject?

  • Nutrient loading is a fertilization technique known to build up reserves in the plant without increasing its size during the nursery phase. The aim is to improve outplanting performance. After outplanting, depending on the site, different stresses affect the plants. The influence of the nutritional state of the plant on frost and drought is a matter of controversy.
What are the new findings?
  • Although on a low level, damage after early and late frost of exponentially loaded Rosa majalis was higher compared to conventionally loaded and non-loaded plants. Drought tolerance was improved in the exponentially loaded plants.
What is the expected impact on horticulture?
  • Nursery growing regimes influence plants attributes and subsequent performance when exposed to frost and drought stress.

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Received: 3 August 2014 | Revised: 13 February 2015 | Accepted: 10 March 2015 | Published: 24 August 2015 | Available online: 24 August 2015

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