Regulated deficit irrigation effects on yield, fruit quality and vegetative growth of ‘Navelina’ citrus trees

M. Gasque, B. Granero, J. V. Turegano, P. Gonzalez-Altozano

Abstract


An experiment on regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) was performed during two growing seasons (2007 and 2008) in a drip-irrigated orchard of Navelina/Cleopatra in Senyera (Valencia, Spain). Two RDI treatments, where water application was reduced to 40% and 60% of the «irrigation dose» (ID), were carried out during the initial fruit enlargement phase (Stage II, 17th July to 2nd September). The rest of the year they were irrigated at 110% ID. These treatments were compared with a control, where irrigation was applied without restriction during the whole year at 110% ID. The ID was obtained from the evapotranspiration data, as well as from the characteristic variables of drip irrigation for the specific experimental orchard. The effects of the treatments on yield, fruit quality, and vegetative growth are discussed in relation to tree water status (midday stem water potential, Ψst). Minimal Ψst values reached in the treatment with the highest stress intensity were –1.71 and –1.60 MPa in 2007 and 2008 respectively. These Ψst values reached as a consequence of the water reduction in the RDI summer treatments applied in this study did not affect yield or fruit quality, allowing water savings between 16% and 23%. In conclusion, water restriction during summer, and once «June drop» has finished, favours the better use of water resources by Navelina citrus trees, achieving an increase of water use efficiency (between 14% and 27% in this case), provided that an appropriate irrigation in autumn allows for tree recovery.

Keywords


citrus trees; drip irrigation; Navelina; stem water potential; water relations; water use efficiency

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/201008S2-1347