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Ethephon: A tool to boost gum arabic production from Acacia senegal and to enhance gummosis processes

Abib C.F., Ntoupka M., Peltier R., Harmand J.M., Thaler P.. 2013. AgroForestry Systems, 87 (2) : p. 427-438.

DOI: 10.1007/s10457-012-9564-y

Gum arabic production from Acacia senegal is lower in sub-humid areas than arid areas. Water stress is thought to be the reason for higher yields in arid areas. The application of ethephon is thought to mimic the effect of water stress in other plants. The objective of this study was to determine if the application of ethephon would increase the gum yields of Acacia senegal under sub-humid conditions in Cameroon. Trees receiving 40 or 120 mg ethephon were compared to controls in field experiments at a semi-arid and a sub-humid location in Northern Cameroon, over two seasons. Two provenances from drier areas (Sudan) were compared to the local one. In the first season, gum yield of the local provenance treated with ethephon was increased by 400-600 % compared to the untreated trees. Gum yield at the semi-arid location was 77, 313 and 214 g/tree with 0, 40 and 120 mg ethephon/tree, respectively, while at the sub-humid location, it was 30, 186 and 114 g/tree with 0, 40 and 120 mg ethephon/tree. However, in the second season, the effect of ethephon was not significant in the semi-arid area, whereas it was evident in the sub-humid area (up to 478 g/tree). Moreover, ethephon did not affect gum yield of provenances from drier areas (Sudan). This showed that the water-stress hypothesis has to be refined. The development of ethephon-based tapping systems is promising, but requires further studies with a wider range of environmental conditions and A. senegal provenances.

Mots-clés : acacia senegal; stress dû à la sécheresse; Éthéphon; rendement des cultures; zone semi-aride; zone subhumide; gomme arabique; cameroun; soudan

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