Annual shoot growth on apple trees with variable canopy leaf area and crop load in response to LiDAR scanned leaf area to fruit ratio
More details
Hide details
Education and Research Centre for Horticulture in Erfurt (LVG), Leipziger Strasse 75a, 99085 Erfurt, Germany
Department Horticultural Engineering, Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy (ATB), Max-Eyth-Allee 100, 14469, Potsdam, Germany
Final revision date: 2022-05-25
Acceptance date: 2022-06-07
Publication date: 2022-07-13
Corresponding author
Nikos Tsoulias   

Department Horticultural Engineering, Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy (ATB), Max-Eyth-Allee 100, 14469, Potsdam, Germany
Int. Agrophys. 2022, 36(3): 173-180
  • The leaf area to fruit ratio (LA:F) of apple trees can precisely mapped with a terrestrial 2D LiDAR
  • The LA:F was negatively correlated to the amount of assimilated C partitioned to fruit in two orchards
  • LA:F was correlated to shoot growth in the young orchard but not in the mature orchard
In tree fruit crops, the crop load is one factor that has an influence on the vegetative growth of the trees. However, since trees vary in leaf area and associated fruit bearing capacity, the number of fruit per tree alone is not sufficient to predict their vegetative growth. In the present study, it was investigated whether the leaf area to fruit ratio of trees variable in size and crop load, measured automatically with a LiDAR laser scanner, have an influence on growth properties of the annual shoots. Canopy leaf area, the number of fruit per tree and the leaf area to fruit ratio of apple trees from two commercial apple orchards of the cultivar 'Gala' grown on sandy soils were scanned with a LiDAR laser scanner over a two-year period (n=12 trees per orchard and year). Additionally, the amount of carbon partitioned to fruit and annual shoot growth was quantified for each tree in both years (n=36). No correlation between the number of fruit per tree and the canopy leaf area alone to the amount of carbon partitioned to annual shoot growth was found in both orchards. However, the carbon partitioned to fruit correlated to the leaf area to fruit ratio, while the amount of carbon partitioned to the annual shoot growth was only correlated to the leaf area to fruit ratio in the young orchard. The inter-tree variability in shoot properties has been described. Nevertheless, it was found that the leaf area to fruit ratio is a weak indicator for shoot properties in apple trees, especially in the mature orchards.
The authors acknowledge Sofii a Penzel and David Sakowsky for their technical support in the orchards and Karin Bergt, Lutz Günzel and Wilhelm Herzberg for access to their orchards and the supply of their equipment.
This work was funded the Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Climate Protection of the federal state of Brandenburg and the agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI), grant number 80168342 (2016-2020). The publication of this article was funded by the Open Access Fund of the Leibniz Association.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Ayala M. and Lang G., 2018. Current season photoassimilate distribution in sweet cherry. J. Am. Soc. Hortic. Sci., 143, 110-117,
Barlow H.W.B., 1980. The relationship between leaf size and shoot length in apple. J. Hortic. Sci., 55, 279-283,
Bepete M. and Lakso A.N., 1998. Differential effects of shade on early season fruit and shoot growth rates in ’Empire’ apple branches. HortScience, 33(5), 823-825,
Buwalda J.G. and F. Lenz., 1992. Effects of cropping, nutrition and water supply on accumulation and distribution of biomass and nutrients for apple trees on M9 root systems. Physiol. Plant., 84(1), 21-28,
Corelli-Grappadelli L., Lakso A.N., and Flore J.A., 1994. Early season patterns of carbohydrate partitioning in exposed and shaded apple branches. J. Am. Soc. Hortic. Sci., 119, 596-603,
Costes E. and Garcia-Villanueva E., 2007. Clarifying the effects of dwarfing rootstock on vegetative and reproductive growth during tree development: a study on apple trees. Ann. Bot., 100, 347-357,
Coupel-Ledru A., Pallas B., and Delalande M., Boudon F., Carrié E. , Martinez S., Regnard J.-L., and Costes E., 2019. Multi-scale high-throughput phenotyping of apple architectural and functional traits in orchard reveals genotypic variability under contrasted watering regimes. Hortic. Res., 6, 52,
DeJong T.M. and Doyle J.F., 1985. Seasonal relationships between leaf nitrogen content (photosynthetic capacity) and leaf canopy light exposure in peach (Prunus persica). Plant, Cell and Environ., 8(9), 701-706,
Ding N., Chen Q., Zhu Z., Peng L., Ge S., and Jiang Y., 2017. Effects of crop load on distribution and utilization of 13C and 15N and fruit quality for dwarf apple trees. Sci. Rep., 7, 14172,
Gené-Mola J., Gregorio E., Cheein F.A., Guevara J., Llorens, J., Sanz-Cortiella R., Escolà A., and Rosell-Polo JR, 2020. Fruit detection, yield prediction and canopy geometric characterization using LiDAR with forced air flow. Comp. Electron. Agric., 168, 105121,
Greer D.H., 2018. Photosynthetic light responses of apple (Malus domestica) leaves in relation to leaf temperature, CO2 and leaf nitrogen on trees grown in orchard conditions. Funct. Plant Biol., 45, 1149-1161,
Guédon Y., Puntieri J.G., Sabatier S., and Barthélémy D., 2006. Relative extents of preformation and neoformation in tree shoots: analysis by a deconvolution method. Ann. Bot., 98(4), 835-844,
Hansen P., 1969. 14C-Studies on apple trees. IV. Photosynthate consumption in fruits in relation to the leaf-fruit ratio and to the leaf-fruit position. Physiol. Plant, 22, 186-198,
Huang Y., Ren Z., Li D., and Liu, X., 2020. Phenotypic techniques and applications in fruit trees: a review. Plant Methods, 16, 107,
Iwanami H., Moriya-Tanaka Y., Honda C., Hanada T., and Wada M., 2018. A model for representing the relationships among crop load, timing of thinning, flower bud formation, and fruit weight in apples. Sci. Hortic., 242, 181-187,
Käthner J., Ben-Gal A., Gebbers R., Peeters A., Herppich W.B., and Zude-Sasse M., 2017. Evaluating spatially resolved influence of soil and tree water status on quality of European plum grown in semi-humid climate. Front. Plant Sci., 8, 1053.
Koike H., Yoshizawa S., and Tsukahara K., 1990. Optimum crop load and dry weight partitioning in Fuji/M.26 apple trees. J. Jap. Soc. Hortic. Sci., 58, 827-834,
Lakso A.N. and Robinson T.L., 1997. Principles of orchard systems management – optimizing supply, demand and partitioning in apple trees. Acta Hortic., 45, 405-415,
Lauri P.E., 2007. Differentiation and growth traits associated with acrotony in the apple tree (Malus× domestica, Rosaceae). Am. J. Bot., 94, 1273-1281,
Manfrini L., Corelli-Grappadelli L., Morandi B., Losciale P., and Taylor J.A., 2020. Innovative approaches to orchard management: assessing the variability in yield and maturity in a 'Gala' apple orchard using a simple management unit modeling approach. Eur. J. Hortic. Sci., 85, 211-218,
Mika A., 1986. Physiological responses of fruit trees to pruning. Hortic. Rev., 8, 337-378,
Palmer J.W., 1992. Effects of varying crop load on photosynthesis, dry matter production and partitioning of Crispin/M.27 apple trees. Tree Physiol., 11, 19-33.
Palmer J.W., Giuliani R. and Adams H.M., 1997. Effect of crop load on fruiting and leaf photosynthesis of ‘Braeburn’/M.26 apple trees. Tree Physiol., 17, 741-746,
Palmer J.W., Wünsche J.N., Meland M., and Hann A., 2002. Annual dry matter production by three apple cultivars at four within-row spacings in New Zealand. J. Hortic. Sci. Biotechnol., 77, 712-717,
Penzel M., Lakso A.N., Tsoulias N., and Zude-Sasse M., 2020. Carbon consumption of developing fruit and the fruit bearing capacity of individual RoHo 3615 and Pinova apple trees. Int. Agrophys., 34, 407-421,
Penzel M., Möhler M., Pflanz M., and Zude-Sasse M., 2021a. Fruit quality response to varying leaf area to fruit ratio on girdled branches and whole trees of 'Bellise' sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.). Acta Hortic., 1327, 707-714,
Penzel M., Tsoulias N., Herppich W.B., Weltzien C., and Zude-Sasse M. 2021b. Modelling the fruit bearing capacity of Malus x domestica Borkh. 'Gala'. Front. Plant Sci., 12, 669909,
Penzel M., Pflanz M., Gebbers R., and Zude-Sasse M., 2021c. Tree adapted mechanical flower thinning prevents yield loss caused by over thinning of trees with low flower set in apple. Eur. J. Hort. Sci., 86, 88-98,
Poll L., Rindom A., Toldam-Andersen P., and Hansen P., 1996. Availability of assimilates and formation of aroma compounds in apples as affected by the fruit/leaf ratio. Physiol. Plant., 97, 223-227,
Quinlan J.D. and Preston A.P., 1971. The influence of shoot competition on fruit retention and cropping of apple trees. J. Hortic. Sci., 46, 525-534,
Saha K.K., Tsoulias N., and Zude-Sasse M., 2020. Bewertung der Messunsicherheit bei der Analyse von Obstbäumen mit mobilem 2D-Laserscanner. Landtechnik, 75(4), 270-277,
Sanz R., Llorens J., Escolà A., Arnó J., Planas S., Roman C., and Rosell-Polo J.R., 2018. LIDAR and non-LIDAR-based canopy parameters to estimate the leaf area in fruit trees and vineyard. Agric. Forest Meteorol., 260, 229-239.
Seleznyova A.N., Tustin D.S., and Thorp T.G., 2008. Apple dwarfing rootstocks and interstocks affect the type of growth units produced during the annual growth cycle: Precocious transition to flowering affects the composition and vigour of annual shoots. Ann. Bot., 101, 679-687,
Sha J., Wang F., Xu X., Chen Q., Zhu Z., Jiang Y., and Ge S., 2020. Studies on the translocation characteristics of 13C-photoassimilates to fruit during the fruit development stage in 'Fuji' apple. Plant Physiol. Biochem., 154, 636-645,
Tsoulias N., Paraforos D.S., Fountas S., and Zude-Sasse M., 2019. Estimating canopy parameters based on the stem position in apple trees using a 2D LiDAR. Agronomy, 9(11), 740,
Tsoulias N., Paraforos D.S., Xanthopoulos G., and Zude-Sasse, M., 2020a. Apple shape detection based on geometric and radiometric features using a LiDAR laser scanner. Remote Sens., 12(15), 2481,
Tsoulias N., Gebbers R., and Zude-Sasse M., 2020b. Using data on soil ECa, soil water properties, and response of tree root system for spatial water balancing in an apple orchard. Prec. Agric., 21, 522-548,
Tsoulias N., Xanthopoulos G., Fountas S., and Zude-Sasse M., 2022. Effects of soil ECa and LiDAR-derived leaf area on yield and fruit quality in apple production. Biosys. Engin. (in press),
Umali B.P., Oliver D.P., Forrester S., Chittleborough D.J., Hutson J.L., Kookana R.S., and Ostendorf B., 2012. The effect of terrain and management on the spatial variability of soil properties in an apple orchard. Catena, 93, 38-48.
Wünsche J.N., Lakso A.N., Robinson T.L., Lenz F., and Denning S.S., 1996. The bases of productivity in apple production systems: the role of light interception by different shoot types. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci., 121, 886-893,
Wünsche J. N., and Ferguson I.B., 2005. Crop load interactions in apple. Hortic. Rev., 31, 233-292,
Ye X., Abe S., and Zhang S., 2020. Estimation and mapping of nitrogen content in apple trees at leaf and canopy levels using hyperspectral imaging. Precis. Agric., 21, 198-225,
Journals System - logo
Scroll to top