The effect of N addition on apple yield and quality may vary according to the tree vigor. Apple trees developed over vigorous rootstocks had shown no response to N application in Brazil. In this study it was evaluated the effect of N addition to the soil on yield and quality of ´Royal Gala´ apples grafted on a dwarf rootstock (M.9). The orchard was planted in 1995 (2,857 trees ha-1) on an Oxisol containing 40 g kg-1 of organic matter and pH 6.0. The experiment was carried out from 1998 up to 2005. Treatments consisted of rates of N (0, 50, 100 and 150 kg ha-1 year-1 from 1998 to 2001, and respectively 0, 100, 200 and 300 kg ha-1 afterwards), all broadcasted within the tree row in two equal splits, at bud break and after harvest, as ammonium sulfate. Addition of N to the soil had no effect on fruit yield over the six years regardless of the applied rate. Averaged across treatments and years, fruit yield was 52.3 t ha-1. Nitrogen in the leaves (average of 24 g kg-1) or in the fruits (average of 346 mg kg-1) as well as some attributes related to fruit quality (color, firmness, acidity, soluble solids, physiological disorders) were unaffected by N addition. Some plant parameters related to tree vigor, however, grew higher with the increase on N rate. Thus, it is not necessary to apply N to deep Brazilian soils containing high organic matter in order to assure good fruit quality and yield on high-density orchards carrying dwarf rootstocks probably because the N required for tree growth and fruit production is supplied from soil organic matter decay.
apple yield; M.9 rootstock; fruit quality; nitrogen