Leaf appearance of contrasting potato cultivars was examined in field experiments at Cambridge, UK, between 1985 and 1990. Three experiments examined the effects of N fertilizer on the appearance and growth of leaves. Four experiments examined leaf appearance over a wide range of planting dates and in two of these experiments different physiological ages of seed were compared.
Linear regression of rate of appearance of main-stem leaves on air temperature indicated a strong dependence of rate of leaf appearance on temperature in the cultivar Maris Piper with a phyllochron of c. 31 K d/leaf but in Estima variation in rate of leaf appearance was only partly explained by differences in air temperature. The phyllochron of main-stem leaves in Estima and Home Guard was shorter for old seed than young seed but there was little effect of seed age in four other cultivars. The phyllochron of main-stem leaves was longer without N fertilizer than with N but the difference in the phyllochron between rates of applied N was small. Leaf appearance on sympodial branches was slower and more variable than on the main-stem. Growth of branches differed between cultivars, particularly with no N fertilizer. In the determinate cultivars Estima and Diana there was restricted growth of branches but in the indeterminate cultivar Cara, significant leaf area was contributed by branches. The duration of leaf appearance and longevity of individual leaves is discussed in relation to N, temperature and cultivar.
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