Chen et al. investigate the impact of a summer water stress on tree development and organ growth in three apple cultivars at tree, shoot and organ scales. A common response was found: water stress accelerated tree ontogeny by promoting summer growth arrest and reducing neoformation.
Even if the impact of water stress slightly differs among cultivars, these mechanisms play a major role for stress avoidance by early reduction in tree leaf area. Improved understanding of cultivar adaptation to water constraint is profitable for future modelling of environmental effects on tree growth especially in the context of climate change.