Studies on Intercropping with Leguminous and Non-leguminous Crops on Yield, Leaf Nutrient Status and Relative Economic Yield of Apple cv. Red Delicious  

Rifat Bhat , W.M. Wani , M.K. Sharma , Naira Ashraf
Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir, Shalimar, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, 19002
Author    Correspondence author
International Journal of Horticulture, 2014, Vol. 4, No. 5   doi: 10.5376/ijh.2014.04.0005
Received: 20 Feb., 2014    Accepted: 13 Mar., 2014    Published: 24 Mar., 2014
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Bhat et al., 2014, Studies on Intercropping with Leguminous and Non-leguminous Crops on Yield, Leaf Nutrient Status and Relative Economic Yield of Apple cv. Red Delicious, International Journal of Horticulture, 2014, Vol.4, No.5 20-23 (doi: 10.5376/ijh.2014.04.0005)

Abstract

Effect of intercrops viz., maize, pea, strawberry, cabbage, red clover, french bean, oats and clean cultivation (control) on productivity, quality, leaf nutrient status and relative economic yield of apple cv. Red Delicious was studied during the years 2008 and 2009 Flowering, per cent fruit set, and fruit maturity occurred earlier in apple trees intercropped with pea, red clover and french bean than control and heavy feeder crops like maize, oats, strawberry and cabbage. Fruit yield, fruit weight, fruit volume and leaf nutrient status were found to be highest in trees intercropped with leguminous crops than non-legumes. The relative economic yield of apple was found higher with pea followed by cabbage and french bean.

Keywords
Apple; Intercrops; Yield; Economics; Leaf nutrient status; Red Delicious

The Jammu and Kashmir state enjoys a unique and varied climate in the Indian subcontinent for successful production of temperate fruits particularly apple. In spite of the fact that this is the only state where yield of apple varieties is highest in the country yet it compares poorly to the yields obtained by other horticulturally advanced countries. One of the main causes for this is the low availability of essential nutrients as the farmers are only supplying N, P and K fertilizers and that too indiscriminately and secondly the interspaces are covered with perennial weeds which compete with essential nutrients and moisture thereby reducing their availability. So if the interspaces of orchards are utilised by growing different intercrops, that are compatible with the main crop, they not only improve the physical conditions of soils but also enhances the uptake of moisture and nutrients.
This practice is also one of the most important factor of orchard soil management system because in this case we cultivate the different intercrops which otherwise remains intact with mostly perennial weeds. These perennial weeds go deeper into the soil for moisture, and lot of water is also transpired from them. Due to this crop-weed competition, fruit trees mostly suffer from water stress and also have an impact on yield and quality of fruits. Effective orchard soil management is also key orchard production practice for profitable and sustainable tree fruit production (Derr, 2001).
So, once this system is practised, it can be the possible solution to meet the continuous increase in demand for food, stability of income and diverse requirements of food and at the same time it can improve the nutrition for small scale farmers with limited resources. Thus keeping in view the above points the present investigation was carried out in most important apple cv. Red Delicious.
Results and Discussion
The data present in Table 1 revealed that the blooming of apple trees intercropped with pea started from 43.18 days after reference date (i.e., 1st March) but in case of apple plants intercropped with maize, initial bloom appeared after completion of 49.88 days from the reference date. Full bloom also occurred earlier in apple trees intercropped with legume and late with heavy feeder crops like maize, oats, cabbage and strawberry. This might be due to the reason that adequate quantity of N, P and K are contributed by leguminous crops which are capable of producing dark green coloured leaves and thus encourages fruit bud formation. In crops like maize, oats etc., uptake of nutrients gets restricted as these heavy feeder crops transpire more and extract huge amount of moisture from the soil, thereby affecting the nutrient availability and their uptake, and also there is huge competition for nutrients and little N is made available to the apple trees. These findings are in accordance with Kanwar (2000).


Table 1 Effect of intercrops on initial and full bloom, per cent fruit set and fruit maturity of Apple cv. Red Delicious


Apple trees intercropped with leguminous crops like pea, red clover and french bean resulted in higher fruit set and early fruit maturity than with heavy feeder crops like maize, oats, cabbage, strawberry and control (clean cultivation) (Table 1). However control (clean cultivation) recorded more per cent fruit set and early fruit maturity than heavy feeder crops. This might be due to the physical improvement of soil which might have facilitated the development of roots and provided better conditions for uptake of nutrients. While in case of heavy feeder crops, due to the competition for nutrients there will be low nutrient availability to apple trees which inturn reduces the rate of metabolism, consequently there will be less synthesis of carbohydrates and less flower bud formation and due to the deficiency of nutrients opening of buds occur slowly taking more time to come into full bloom, thereby enhancing the number of days to mature fruits. These results are in conformity with Delip (1967), Hill-Cottingham and Williams (1967) and Gao et al. (2013).
Average fruit yield was higher in apple trees intercropped with leguminous crops than the apple trees intercropped with control (clean cultivation) and heavy feeder crops (Table 2). Highest fruit yield was observed in apple trees intercropped with pea followed by red clover, french bean, control (clean cultivation), strawberry, cabbage and oats, while lowest fruit yield was observed in trees intercropped with maize. This might be due to the reason that legumes increase the absorptive capacity of water and nutrient in upper fertile layers of soils thereby reducing evaporation. They also maintain slightly higher temperature which could essentially help in uptake of nutrients and increases the root concentration on the surface soils. The production can also be influenced by species, orchard site, pruning procedures, pests and diseases and above all the rootstocks. These findings are in congruence with Neilson and Hogue (1985).


Table 2 Effect of intercrops on fruit yield, fruit weight and fruit volume of apple cv. Red Delicious


Fruits harvested from apple trees intercropped with legumes recorded maximum fruit weight and fruit volume. However, control (clean cultivation) showed greater fruit weight as compared to heavy feeder crops like strawberry, cabbage, oats and maize (Table 2). This may be due to the reason that heavy feeder crops (maize and oats) compete strongly for moisture and nutrients with the apple tree as they transpire more water (moisture), resulting in poor quality fruits while N fixation by legumes results in higher availability of both N and moisture as they increase water holding capacity of soil which might have helped to increase uptake of nutrients and thus increased dry matter accumulation. These results are in congruence with Yankovoi (1983).
Highest leaf N and Mg was recorded in apple trees intercropped with pea whileas lowest was recorded with maize (Table 3; Table 4). Leaf P, K and Ca was recorded highest in apple trees intercropped with red clover followed by french bean, pea, control (clean cultivation), strawberry, cabbage, oats and maize. This might be due to the fact that leguminous crops like pea have a symbiotic relationship with rhizobium species which is capable of fixing large amount of atmospheric N thus increasing available soil N. These results are in line with Fisenko (1969), while in case of leaf P, K and Ca this may be due to higher availability of moisture by clovers, as they can penetrate into the deeper layers of soils for extraction of moisture which might have facilitated the uptake of nutrients and their uptake is correlated with the availability of H2O. These results are in conformity with Neilson and Hogue (1985).


Table 3 Effect of intercrops on leaf N, P, K status of apple cv. Red Delicious


Table 4 Effect of intercrops on leaf Ca and Mg status of apple cv. Red Delicious


Highest benefit: cost ratio was recorded in apple trees intercropped with pea (1.71) followed by cabbage (1.41), red clover (1.40) and frenchbean (1.39), respectively (Table 5). This was mainly due to additional yield of pea, seed production of cabbage, red clover and French bean and also their better marketing price. These findings are in congruence with Kishore et al. (1997).


Table 5 Effect of intercrops on relative economics of apple cv. Red Delicious (system equivalent yield)


From the foregoing discussion, it can be concluded that apple trees intercropped with pea, red clover and french bean resulted in better productivity, quality and leaf nutrient status and proved to be beneficial for sustainable development of farmers also as they have provided more returns.
Materials and Methods
The investigations were carried out at the Experimental Farm of SKUAST-Kashmir, Ambri Apple Research Station, Pahnoo, Distt. Shopian (Jammu and Kashmir) during the years 2008 and 2009 on apple cv. Red Delicious. The experiment was laid out in a randomized block design with eight treatment combinations. There were three replications and 4 plants per plot. Floral character like initial bloom and full bloom were recorded as dates of opening of flowers (about 10% flowering in initial bloom and about 80% in full bloom). The recorded dates were converted into days after reference date which was fixed arbitrarily as March 1st. Per cent fruit set of each experimental plot was calculated at fruitlet stage by using the formula suggested by Westwood (1993). Fruit maturity was recorded from date of full bloom to the date when the fruit was actually harvested. Fruit yield was calculated by weighing all the fruits harvested individually from each experimental tree and average yield was expressed as kg/tree. Fruit weight was determined by individually weighing the fruits obtained from each experimental plant on a common monopan balance and the average weight was recorded. Fruit volume was determined by water displacement method.
Leaf total nitrogen content was determined by Micro-Kjeldhal method (A.O.A.C., 1980), total phosphorus by vanado-molybodophophoric yellow colour method (Jackson, 1967) and total potassium by flame photometer. Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions in leaf were estimated on Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer. The data obtained was subjected to the statistical analysis.
References
AOAC., 1980, Methods of analysis. 4th Edition. Association of Official and Agricultural Chemists, Washington, DC 20044
Delip A.V., 1967, The effect of supplying nitrate at different seasons on the growth, blossoming and nitrogen content of young apple trees in sand culture, Journal of American Society for Horticultural Science, 42: 149-167
Derr J.F., 2001, Biological assessment of herbicides use in apple production II. Estimated impacts following loss of specific herbicides, Horticulture Technology, 11(1): 20-25
Gao L., Xu H., Xi W., and Bao B., 2013, Intercropping competition between apple trees and crops in agroforestry systems on the Loers plateau of China, PLOS ONE, 8(7): e70739
http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0070739
Hill-Cottingham D.G., and Williams R.R., 1967, Effect of time of application of fertilizer nitrogen on the growth, flower development and fruit set of maiden apple trees var. Lord Lambourne and on the distribution of total nitrogen within the tree, Journal of American Society for Horticultural Science, 42: 319-338.
Jackson M.L., 1967, Soil chemical anaysis. Asia Publishing House, Bombay, p. 48.
Kanwar S.M., 2000, Fruit bud formation, pollination and fruitset. In : Apples Production Technology and Economics. Tata McGraw Hill Publishing Company Limited, New Delhi, pp. 159-62.
Kishore D.K., Sharma Y.P., and Pramanick K.K., 1997, Prospects of economizing in the use of nitrogenous fertilizers in apple orchards intercrops with Trifolium repens, Progressive Horticulture, 29(1-2): 88-92.
Neilson G.H., and Hogue E.J., 1985, Effect of orchard soil management on growth and leaf nutrient concentration of young dwarf ‘Red Delicious’ apple trees, Canadian Journal of Soil Science 65: 309-315
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Yankovoi M.I., 1983, Effect of herbicide application and plastic mulching on growth and cropping in a young apple orchard, Sadovodstvo, Vinogradarstvoi Vinodihe Maldavii, 12: 50

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