Previous studies suggest that younger roots are more vulnerable to mortality than older roots. We analyzed minirhizotron data using a mixed-age, proportional hazards regression approach to determine whether the risk of mortality (or "hazard") was higher for younger roots than for older roots in a West Virginia peach orchard. While root age apparently had a strong effect on the hazard when considered alone, this effect was largely due to different rates of mortality among roots of different orders, diameters, and depths. Roots with dependent laterals (higher order roots) had a lower hazard than first-order roots in 1996 and 1997. Greater root diameter was also associated with a decreased hazard in both 1996 and 1997. In both years, there was a significant decrease in the hazard with depth. When considered alone, age appeared to be a strong predictor of risk: a 1-d increase in initial root age was associated with a 1.26-2.62% decrease in the hazard. However, when diameter, order, and depth were incorporated into the model, the effect of root age disappeared or was greatly reduced. Baseline hazard function plots revealed that the timing of high-risk periods was generally related to seasonal factors rather than individual root age.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Plant Science