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Keywords:

  • Diurnal growth patterns;
  • growth modelling;
  • peach;
  • Prunus persica;
  • water relations

Field measurements of stem extension growth rate in peach (Prunus persica [L.] Batsch) exhibited a consistent diurnal pattern. Stem extension rate was lowest in the early morning and increased throughout the day. In the late afternoon, 2–3-fold increases in extension rate occurred and were sustained for 2 to 4 h. After this growth surge, rates precipitously declined and remained low during the night. The temperature response of stem growth rate at constant water potential was determined using potted trees in a dark growth chamber. Under such conditions, stem growth rate was strongly dependent on air temperature. In the field, the observed stem growth rate deviated from that predicted on the basis of temperature. These deviations were proportional to the rate of change in stem water potential. A model was constructed to predict diurnal patterns of stem extension rate using temperature and water potential data. The model was tested using data from undisturbed trees and from trees in which water potential was artificially manipulated. Growth patterns predicted by the model were in general agreement with observed rates.