Response of early-peach [Prunus persica (L.)] trees to deficit irrigation

I. Abrisqueta, L. M. Tapia, W. Conejero, M. I. Sanchez-Toribio, J. M. Abrisqueta, J. Vera, M. C. Ruiz-Sanchez


The effect of different irrigation strategies in water relations, vegetative growth and yield of early maturing peach trees, growing in Murcia, (Spain) was studied during two years. Treatments consisted on: a control T1, full irrigated (150% of ETc); T2, continuous deficit irrigation at 50% of ETc; T3, regulated deficit irrigation (RDI), irrigated at 100% of ETc only during stage III of fruit growth and 25% the rest of the growing season; and T4, with automatic control of irrigation based on capacitance FDR-type probe data, varying threshold values. The results indicated that irrigation deficits in T2 and T3 treatments induced the lowest soil water content and stem water potential(Ψstem) values during the postharvest period (e.g. ψstem up to –1.8 MPa in T3 during summer 2008); thus, a reduction in trunk growth and pruning weight, respect to control treatment values, was noted in both years. Also, peach yield was significantly reduced in both deficit irrigated treatments. The greatest irrigation water saving in T3 treatment (≈60%) caused the higher water use efficiency values in this treatment. For these reasons, water deficit during the postharvest periods (extended in the early maturing varieties) must be limited if fruit yield is not to be reduced. Irrigation scheduling based on capacitance probes have become a useful tool in the control of soil water content. When threshold values were precisely defined, the slight water deficits limited only vegetative growth while maintaining similar peach yield to that of well irrigated trees.


automatic irrigation; capacitance probes; neutron probe; soil water content; stem water potential; vegetative growth; yield

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/201008S2-1345