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Establishment of young cacao trees in West Africa can be severely impeded by the onset of the dry season. To address this issue, a field experiment was conducted in Ghana to examine whether different mulch treatments and irrigation applied during the dry season combined with overhead shade could improve survival, early growth and yield of cacao. The mulch treatments used were polyethylene film and coffee husks placed around the young plants. Irrigation was used as a positive control, and no mulching or irrigation was a negative control. Three shade regimes were provided through different arrangements of Gliricidia sepium and plantains. Four different cacao clones were used in the study in a replicated split-plot design. Early growth of cacao was stimulated under the irrigation and plastic mulch treatments. Higher rates of photosynthesis during the dry season appeared to underlie these increases. Significantly higher early yields were also observed under the irrigation and coffee mulch treatments compared with the control. Plant survival varied significantly between treatments; irrigation was associated with the highest plant survival (94%), followed by the plastic mulch treatment (91%), coffee husk (82%) and the control (70%). There was also an increase in survival when more intense shading was used. Under zero mulch conditions, differences in survival were observed between clones. The clones P 30 [POS] and SCA 6 were more sensitive to drought (in terms of survival) than PA 150 and T 79/501. It is concluded that relatively simple mulching techniques or controlled irrigation in conjunction with appropriate shade management can significantly improve early establishment and cropping of cacao.
The physiological performance of four cacao clones was examined under three artificial shade regimes over the course of a year in Ghana. Plants under light shade had significantly higher photosynthetic rates in the rainy seasons whereas in the dry season there was a trend of higher photosynthetic rates under heavy shade. The results imply that during the wet seasons light was the main limiting factor to photosynthesis whereas in the dry season vapour pressure deficit was the major factor limiting photosynthesis through stomatal regulation. Leaf area was generally lower under heavier shade but the difference between shade treatments varied between clones. Such differences in leaf area allocation appeared to underlie genotypic differences in final biomass production in response to shade. The results suggest that shade for young cacao should be provided based on the current ambient environment and genotype.
Conventional experiments designed to investigate the mechanical properties of polycrystalline geological materials are generally restricted to measurements of whole-rock properties. However, when comparing the measurements with theoretical models, it is frequently essential to understand how the deformation is accommodated at the grain-scale. This is particularly true for polymineralic rocks because in this case most theories express the whole-rock properties as some function of the properties of their constituent minerals, and hence the contribution which each phase makes to those properties must be measured if the theories are to be fully assessed. The penetrating nature of neutrons offers a method of addressing this problem. By performing deformation experiments in the neutron beam-line and collecting neutron diffraction patterns at different applied loads, the lattice parameters of all the mineral phases present may be determined as a function of load. The elastic strain experienced by each phase is then easily determined. Moreover, the strain in different lattice directions is also obtained. From this information a wide range of problems relevant for the characterization of the elastic and plastic deformation behaviour of polymineralic geological materials can be explored. An experimental technique for carrying out such experiments is described, and its validity is demonstrated by showing that the results obtained from deforming an elastically isotropic olivine + magnesiowüstite sample agree, to within very tight bounds, with the behaviour predicted by theory for elastically isotropic composites.
Canopy characteristics (leaf area index, fractional light interception, extinction coefficient) of mature trees of ten clonally propagated cacao cultivars were measured over a period of 14 months at an experiment site in Bahia, Brazil. Differences in leaf area index between clones became more pronounced over time. When an approximately constant leaf area index was reached (after about nine months), the leaf area index varied between clones from 2.8 to 4.5. Clonal differences in the relationship between leaf area index and fractional light interception implied differences in canopy architecture, as reflected by the range of extinction coefficients (mean values ranged from 0.63 for the clone TSH-565 to 0.82 for CC-10). The results demonstrate the potential for breeding more photosynthetically efficient cacao canopies.
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