Effect of different potassium fertilizer rates and foliar application with some sources of potassium on growth, yield and quality of carrot plants (Daucus carota L.).

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Two field experiments were carried out at Barramoon experimental farm, Hort. Res., Institute, Dakahlia Governorate, Egypt, during the two winter seasons of 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 to study the effect of different rates of potassium fertilization (0,
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  EFFECT OF DIFFERENT POTASSIUM FERTILIZER RATES AND FOLIAR APPLICATION WITH SOME SOURCES OF POTASSIUM ON GROWTH, YIELD AND QUALITY OF CARROT PLANTS ( Daucus carota L.) Abou El-Nasr, M. E. and E. A. Ibrahim Veget. Res. Dept., Hort. Res. Inst., Agric. Res. Center, Giza, Egypt. ABSTRACT Two field experiments were carried out at Barramoon experimental farm, Hort. Res., Institute, Dakahlia Governorate, Egypt, during the two winter seasons of 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 to study the effect of different rates of potassium fertilization (0, 25, 50 and 75 kg K 2 O /fad.) as potassium sulfate in addition to foliar application by   water (control), liquid potassium (3 ml/ L), potassium borate citrate (3 ml/ L) and NPK- humate (3 ml/ L)   and their interaction on production and quality of carrot cv. “Chantenay Red Core". Potassium foliar applications were made 3 times at 20 days intervals with the same doses during the growing period (20, 40 and 60 days after sowing). The highest potassium fertilization rate (75 kg K 2 O /fad.) gave the tallest shoot, the highest number of leaves per plant and the highest fresh weight of shoots as well as the highest total yield per fadden in both seasons. Also, the obtained results reported that the root measurements expressed as (root length, root diameter, root weight, TSS and carotenoids content, as well as leaves chemical composition (N, P and K concentrations) were increased with increasing potassium fertilization rate in both seasons. On the other hand, spraying carrot plants with potassium humate at a rate of 3 ml/ L markedly increased vegetative growth, yield, root quality and chemical composition in both seasons. The favorable effects of the potassium on the growth, total yield and root parameters were obtained when carrot plants fertilized with 75 kg K 2 O /fad. as potassium sulfate plus foliar application of potassium humate (3 ml/ L) followed statistically by 75 kg K 2 O /fad. with foliar application of potassium borate citrate (3 ml/ L) in both seasons. Key words: Daucus carota, Carrot, potassium, fertilizer, foliar, humate, citrate. INTRODUCTION  Carrot ( Daucus carota L.) is an important vegetable in Egypt. The fleshy roots are eaten as raw in salads, boiled or steamed in vegetable dishes and also used with other vegetables in the preparation of soup and its increasing importance as human food. It covers a production area of 13,651 fed. in year 2010 that yielded 175,923 tons according to Ministry of  Agriculture Statistics. Carrot is a potassium-demanding plant (Kadar, 2008). Potassium has a crucial role in the energy status of the plant, translocation and storage of assimilates and maintenance of tissue water relation. Also potassium plays a key role of crop quality. It stimulates root growth. It is necessary for the translocation of sugars and formation of carbohydrates. Potassium also provides resistance against pest and diseases and drought as well as frost stresses. It is a highly mobile element in the plant and has a specific phenomenon, it is called luxury consumption (Marschner, 1995).  Increasing productivity of carrot with high quality is an important target by the carrot growers. Potassium application is very important for carrot plants. Hochmuth et al . (2006) indicated that potassium is required for successful carrot production. Moreover, several studies revealed the importance of potassium to achieve high carrot yield (Balooch et al ., 1993; Ali et al ., 2003; Anjaiah and Padmaja, 2006; Bartaseviciene and Pekarskas, 2007) and quality of roots (Balooch et al ., 1993; Sharangi and Paria, 1995; Sharangi and Paria, 1997; Lyngdoh, 2001; Ali et al ., 2003). Carrot root yield and carotene content increased progressively and significantly with the increased application of potassium (Ali et al ., 2003). Nowadays, potassium fertilization became an important factor for carrot production under Egyption soils. However, farmers minimizing the used amount to the minimum dose or ignored using it because chemical potassium fertilizer became a high expensive fertilizer in Egypt In addition to use any other newly and cheapest potassium sources through foliar application to overcome such problem and to maximize their net return to cover the additional cost of this K fertilizer source. Foliar fertilization is more economical than root fertilization due to the efficiency and lower cost. The foliar method of fertilizer application is usually preferred because very small amounts of fertilizers are applied per hectare. It also reduces the number of passes of the applicant, thereby reducing problem of soil compactness. Foliar application is also less likely to result in ground water pollution. Foliar application of potassium increased the growth and yield of carrot plants (Subrahmanyam and Raju, 2000; El-Tohamy et al ., 2011). Potassium in organic chelated form (potassium borate citrate and NPK- Humate) can be used as a inexpensive source for potassium and it could be used as foliar application. It was reported by many researchers that they increased the plant growth, nutrient uptake and plant yield as well as quality (Fathy and El-Hamady, 2007 on cowpea; Karakurt et al., 2009 on pepper). The main objective of this study was to investigate the effect of different potassium fertilization rates in addition to foliar spray of liquid potassium, potassium borate citrate and NPK- humate on the vegetative growth parameters, total roots yield and   its physical and chemical constituents of carrot plants. MATERIALS AND METHODS Carrot seeds cv. “Chantenay Red Core " were sown at Barramoon experimental farm, Hort. Res., Institute, Dakahlia Governorate, Egypt, on 4 and 3 September in winter seasons of 2007/2008 and 2008/2009, respectively. The soil is clay loam in texture. Some physical and chemical properties of the studied soil are shown in Table (1) with reference to Page (1982).  Table (1): Some physical and chemical properties of the experimental soil surface layer (at the depth of 0-30) before planting during 2008 and 2009 seasons Properties Values Properties Values 2007/08 2008/09 2007/08 2008/09 Sand (%) Silt (%) Clay (%) Texture class CaCO 3  OM (%) 27.6 32.1 40.3 Clay-loam 3.3 2.027.5 31.9 40.6 Clay-loam 3.6 2.2pH* EC (dSm -1 ) ** Total N (%)  Available P (ppm) Exchangeable K (ppm) 7.6 0.7 0.13 11.4 293 7.7 0.7 0.15 11.6 287 * pH: (1:2.5 soil extract). ** EC: soil paste    A split plot design in a randomized complete block with three replicates was used. The main plots were assigned to four potassium fertilization rates (0, 25, 50 and 75 kg K 2 O /fad.). The subplots were devoted to the four foliar applications (liquid potassium, potassium borate citrate, NPK- Humate and control). The sub plot area was 10.5 m 2  (3m in width x 3.5 m in length) included 5 ridges, 60 cm apart. Each treatment was separated by two guard ridges. Potassium treatments in the form of potassium sulfate (48% K 2 O), ammonium sulfate (20.6% N) at rate of 60 kg N/fed. and calcium superphosphate (16% P 2 O 5 ) at rate of 40 kg P 2 O 5 /fed. were divided in two equal portions. The first portion of calcium super phosphate was broadcasted during seed bed preparation and the second portion was added with the first portion of N and K fertilizers which was added at the fourth week after seed sowing, and the second portion of N and K fertilizers was added at the eighth week after seeds sowing. Other agricultural practices were conducted according to Ministry of Agriculture recommendations. Regarding foliar spray treatments, they have been applied as follows: 1- Liquid potassium (37.5% K 2 O, Kafr El Zayat Pesticides & Chemicals Co., Egypt), applied at concentration of 3 ml/ L. 2- Potassium borate citrate (35% K 2 O, 5% B) formulation of Hort. Res. Inst., Egypt, applied at concentration of 3 ml/ L. 3- NPK- humate: 10% humic acids + 8% N + 8% P 2 O 5  + 8% K 2 O registered with NO. 5709, Hort. Res. Inst., Egypt, applied at concentration of 3 ml/ L. 4- Control, only sprayed with tap water. These treatments were sprayed three times (at 20 days after sowing and again every 20 days). Bio-film as a wetting agent was applied at 0.5 ml/liter of solution. The plants were sprayed until dropp-off by using a hand-sprayer. Seeds were drilled on both sides of ridges. After complete emergence the plants were thinned to have a uniform spacing of 3-5 cm. All agricultural practices were carried out according to the recommendations of Ministry of Agriculture.  At 80 days after sowing, samples of 10 plants from each plot were taken to determine N, P and K concentrations in shoots. Shoot samples were separated and oven dried at 70 o C for 72 h to constant weight, then fine grounded and wet digested. Total nitrogen was determined with micro-kjeldahl method according to Chapman and Pratt (1961). Phosphorus was  determined colorimetrically using the chlorostannous reduced molybdophosporic blue color method as described by Jackson (1973). Potassium was determined using a flame photometer as described by Jackson (1973).  At the harvesting time (120 days from sowing), the yield of roots as ton/fed. was calculated. In the same time, samples of 10 plants from each experimental plot were taken to record vegetative growth parameters (shoot height, number of leaves per plant and shoot fresh weight), yield components (root length, root diameter and root weight), TSS (measured by hand Refractometer) and carotenoids content in root according to methods mentioned by Umiel and Gabelmoii (1971). The obtained data were statistically analyzed and means separation were done using LSD test according to the method described by Snedecor and Cochran (1982). RESULTS AND DISCUSSION1. Vegetative growth parameters: Data presented in Table (2) show that potassium as soil application had a significant effect on vegetative growth parameters, i.e. , shoot height, number of leaves per plant and shoot fresh weight. The highest vegetative growth parameters were recorded with soil application of 75 kg K 2 O /fad.. These findings were true in both seasons. These results may be due to the role of potassium element in metabolism and many processes needed to sustain and promote plant vegetative growth and development. Moreover, K plays a major role in many physiological and biochemical processes such as cell division and elongation and metabolism of carbohydrates and protein compounds (Marschner, 1995). The obtained results are in a good accordance with those recorded by EL-Bassiouny et al.  (2003) and Hossain et al.  (2009) who found that increasing potassium fertilizer levels increased shoot height, number of leaves per plant and shoot fresh weight. Regarding potassium foliar application, treatments had a significant effect on growth parameters (shoot height, number of leaves/ plant and shoot fresh weight) in both seasons (Table, 2). Spraying carrot plants with NPK-humate produced the highest values of growth parameters followed by spraying plants with potassium borate citrate and liquid potassium in both seasons; while control treatment (without potassium foliar application) gave the lowest values of these characters in both seasons. The superiority of plant growth with the addition of NPK-humate might be attributed to that   the organic - mineral complex of NPK-humate is greatly induced high balanced N, P and K concentration within carrot leaves (Table, 4), besides the role of humic acids in protein synthesis, nutrients translocation, antioxidantal enzymes, root proliferation and foliar growth (Chen and Avaid., 1990; Chen et al. , 2004). The most growth encourages effect of potassium borate citrate may be due to that this formulation contain K and B of the similar and harmonic synergetic action, complexes with organic moiety of citrate, ensuring potent K and B nutrition for more enhancement of carbohydrates, proteins, enzymes and energy synthesis (Marschner, 1995). These results are in agreement with those of Subrahmanyam and Raju (2000), Zhang et al . (2006) and El-Tohamy et al . (2011).  Regarding the interaction effect, there were significant effects on growth parameters in both seasons (Table, 2). The highest values of shoot height, number of leaves/ plant and shoot fresh weight were recorded by using 75 kg K 2 O /fad. With foliar    application of NPK -humate followed by using   75 kg K 2 O /fad. with foliar application   of potassium borate citrate. These findings were true in both experimental seasons. Similar results were obtained by El-Bassiony (2006) and El-Bassiony et al.  (2010) who found that the highest vegetative parameters of onion and sweet pepper plants were recorded when used potassium in the highest level as soil application with foliar application of K-humate or potassium oxide. Table (2): Effect of different potassium levels, potassium foliar application and their interaction on vegetative growth parameters of carrot plant in seasons of 2007/08 and 2008/09. Treatments Shoot height (cm)   Number of leaves / plant   Shoot fresh weight/ plant (g)  2007/08 2008/09 2007/08 2008/09 2007/08 2008/09 Effect of potassium fertilization rates (kg K 2 O /fed.)   0 25 50 75 46.9 55.4 62.9 68.3 47.0 56.0 63.1 66.3 9.2 12.2 14.8 16.6 9.0 12.0 14.8 16.4 31.1 43.4 54.1 55.2 30.4 42.3 52.6 53.7 LSD (5%) 1.2 1.1 0.5 0.5 1.2 1.3 Effect of potassium foliar application Control Liquid K K borate citrate NPK- humate 54.6 57.6 60.1 61.2 54.8 57.1 59.4 61.1 12.2 12.9 13.5 14.2   12.1 12.8 13.3 14.0 42.5 45.1 47.2 49.0   41.4 44.0 45.9 47.7 LSD (5%) 1.4 1.6 0.6 0.6 1.6 1.6 Effect of the interaction  0 Control Liquid K K borate citrate NPK- humate 42.2 45.6 49.8 49.9 43.6 46.4 48.02 50.06 8.1 9.0 9.5 10.0 8.0 8.9 9.3 9.7 26.4 29.6 32.7 35.7 25.9 29.0 31.9 34.7 25 Control Liquid K K borate citrate NPK- humate 51.5 54.5 56.8 58.9 52.7 55.2 57.1 59.0 10.8 11.7 12.3 13.9 10.6 11.6 12.1 13.7 39.2 42.1 45.0 47.3 38.1 41.0 43.8 46.2 50 Control Liquid K K borate citrate NPK- humate 59.7 62.5 64.4 65.1 59.3 61.4 65.3 66.2 13.8 14.6 15.2 15.7 13.8 14.5 15.3 15.5 50.6 53.9 55.3 56.4 49.3 52.5 53.8 54.9 75 Control Liquid K K borate citrate NPK- humate 65.1 67.8 69.2 71.0 63.4 65.5 67.3 69.1 16.116.416.817.115.9 16.3 16.6 16.9 53.7 54.7 55.8 56.6 52.2 53.4 54.1 55.0 LSD (5%) 1.8 2.3 0.8 0.5 2.5 2.2
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