New apple rootstocks’ influence on mineral composition of leaves and fruit

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2016: $14,562.00
Projected End Date: 04/15/2018
Grant Recipient: The Pennsylvania State University
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Dr. Rob Crassweller
Penn State University

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: apples, general tree fruits


  • Crop Production: nutrient cycling, tissue analysis
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Pest Management: field monitoring/scouting
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Soil Management: nutrient mineralization, soil chemistry

    Proposal abstract:

    This project will look at the leaf and fruit nutrient content of two apple cultivars on four dwarfing rootstocks, G.935, G.41, G.11 and M.9 NAKB T-337. The study will be conducted in the orchards of Hollabaugh Brothers Inc. located in Biglerville, PA in the largest fruit producing region of Pennsylvania. Leaf samples and fruit peel samples will be collected in mid-August and analyzed by the Penn State University Agricultural Analytical Services Lab. Six replicated samples of both leaves and cortical peels will be collected from each of the rootstocks. At the same time four replicated leaf samples consisting of leaves from current season’s growth and spur leaves will be collected for plant sap analysis by Crop Health Labs. The study will be conducted for two years in 2016 and 2017.  

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Leaf analysis is an underutilized technique in orchards and generally is not used to sample specific rootstock scion combinations. Sap analysis has not been used at all and is a new methodology in tree fruit production. Questions that can be answered are: 1) Are different rootstocks are more efficient in nutrient uptake; 2) Can nutrient sap analysis be related to leaf analysis results; 3) Can cortical fruit peel analysis be related to both leaf and sap analysis. 4) If differences in nutrient uptake by rootstock exists can rootstock selection help reduce fertilizer applications and reduce contamination in Chesapeake watershed.

    The Hollabaugh Brothers Inc. orchard is located in Adams County at 545 Carlisle Rd., Biglerville, PA 17307. ( ). The orchard blocks to be used were planted in 2014 and consist of Aztec Fuji and Buckeye Gala on four different dwarfing rootstocks. Three are new Geneva rootstocks, G.935, G.11 and G.41. The other rootstock is the industry standard M.9 NAKB T337. There are the following number of trees on each rootstock that can be utilized Aztec Fuji – 1074 on G.935, 1026 on G.11, 624 on G.41 and 1325 on M.9 T-337. For Buckeye Gala there are 1121 trees on G.935, 1,100 on G.11, 1031 on G.41 and 1164 on M.9 T337. The trees will be divided up into 6 blocks and foliar and fruit peel samples will be collected from each block. Standard protocol of collecting leaf samples will be followed with collection occurring in early August. Cortical fruit peel samples will be collected approximately 3 weeks before anticipated harvest of each cultivar. Peel samples will consist of 3 cm diameter thin slices of the peel from the calyx end of 25 fruit. Leaf samples will consist of a composite sample from 25 trees each for a total of 50 leaves. All tissue samples will be dried prior to analysis. Analysis will be performed by Penn State University Ag. Analytical Service Lab ( ) . Nitrogen is analyzed by combustion with an Elementar Vario Max N/C analyzer, while P, K, Ca, Mg, Mn, Fe, Cu, B, Al, Zn, and S is done with acid digestion. Sap analysis will be performed by Crop Health Labs ( ). An analysis of variance will be performed on the data and if it is significant mean separation tests will be utilized.

    Project will run from June 2016 through December 2017 covering two consecutive growing seasons. Trees are already in existence and will be cared for by Mr. Bruce Hollabaugh and include pruning, training and pest management of the trees. D. Smith will collect the leaf and peel samples and sap analysis samples and process them.

    Preliminary results will be shared with Pennsylvania growers during a series of 9 winter meetings held in February and March of 2017. Results will also be published in the Fruit Times newsletter and at the PSU field day in July 2017. Final results will be shared with growers across the mid-Atlantic region at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Conference held in January, 2018 in Hershey, PA and published in the Pennsylvania Fruit News. Results will also be used to adjust leaf analysis recommendations performed by the PSU Ag Analytical Services Lab and shared with private companies that perform leaf analysis for growers.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.