• canopy envelope;
  • clumping;
  • isolated tree;
  • light interception;
  • Malus domestica (apple);
  • modelling;
  • porosity;
  • three-dimensional (3-D) digitizing.


  • • 
    Simple models of light interception are useful to identify the key structural parameters involved in light capture. We developed such models for isolated trees and tested them with virtual experiments. Light interception was decomposed into the projection of the crown envelope and the crown porosity. The latter was related to tree structure parameters.
  • • 
    Virtual experiments were conducted with three-dimensional (3-D) digitized apple trees grown in Lebanon and Switzerland, with different cultivars and training. The digitized trees allowed actual values of canopy structure (total leaf area, crown volume, foliage inclination angle, variance of leaf area density) and light interception properties (projected leaf area, silhouette to total area ratio, porosity, dispersion parameters) to be computed, and relationships between structure and interception variables to be derived.
  • • 
    The projected envelope area was related to crown volume with a power function of exponent 2/3. Crown porosity was a negative exponential function of mean optical density, that is, the ratio between total leaf area and the projected envelope area. The leaf dispersion parameter was a negative linear function of the relative variance of leaf area density in the crown volume.
  • • 
    The resulting models were expressed as two single equations. After calibration, model outputs were very close to values computed from the 3-D digitized databases.