Yield Response, Quality Traits, and Nitrogen-Use Efficiency of a Burley Tobacco Crop Grown in Mediterranean Areas (Southern Italy) as Affected by Intensive N Management
Tobacco is an annual cash crop widely cultivated over the world, which generally needs great amounts (N) of nitrogen to achieve the best yield and quality. However, with a view to sustainable and environmentally friendly agriculture, also for this crop, the reduction in N fertilization is a priority, but without negatively affecting the yield and quality of the cured product. Therefore, field experiments were conducted during 2002 and 2003 on light air-cured (Burley) tobacco at three different
... ocations of the Campania region (Southern Italy) where high-quality light air-cured (Burley) tobacco is traditionally cultivated. At each location, the following six N fertilization treatments were compared with four replications (blocks): (i) a not fertilized control (N0); (ii) 50 kg N ha−1 (N50); 90 kg N ha−1 (N90); 130 kg N ha−1 (N130); 170 kg N ha−1 (N170); 210 kg N ha−1 (N210). The yield of cured leaves appeared positively influenced by N fertilization but not at a rate higher than 170 kg ha−1. N fertilization directly influenced nitrates and the total N content of cured leaves at all locations. The greater values of both parameters were reached at N130 or N90, respectively, at Vitulazio (CE), N170 at Bellizzi (SA), and N90 at San Giorgio del Sannio (BN). The fire holding capacity increased with N fertilization up to N170 treatment (12–13 s at CE and BN but just 8 s at SA). L* (brightness) decreased with increasing N fertilization giving cured leaves less bright and opaquer. The a/b ratio (a*, green/red; b*, blue/yellow) increased with N treatments producing cured leaves of dark hazelnut. The best scores were assigned to cured products obtained by plants fertilized with 170 kg N ha−1. N-use efficiencies were negatively influenced by N fertilization. The best NUE and N-uptake efficiency was recorded in 2002 at Vitulazio (CE), in spite of a higher NO3-N before N fertilization than other locations.