|Author:||Romero, P. ; Navarro, J. M. ; García, F. ; Ordaz, P. B.|
|Book Group Author:||NA|
We investigated the effects of regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) during the pre-harvest period (kernel-filling stage) on water relations, leaf development and crop yield in mature almond (Prunus dulcis (Mill.) D.A. Webb cv. Cartagenera) trees during a 2-year field experiment. Trees were either irrigated at full-crop evapotranspiration (ETc=100%) (well-irrigated control treatment) or subjected to an RDI treatment that consisted of full irrigation for the full season, except from early June to early August (kernel-filling stage), when 20% ETc was applied. The severity of water stress was characterized by measurements of soil water content, predawn leaf water potential (Ψpd) and relative water content (RWC). Stomatal conductance (gs), net CO2 assimilation rate (A), transpiration rate (E), leaf abscission, leaf expansion rate and crop yield were also measured. In both years, Ψpd and RWC of well-irrigated trees were maintained above -1.0 MPa and 92%, respectively, whereas the corresponding values for trees in the RDI treatment were -2.37 MPa and 82%. Long-term water stress led to a progressive decline in gs, A and E, with significant reductions after 21 days in the RDI treatment. At the time of maximum stress (48 days after commencement of RDI), A, gs and E were 64, 67 and 56% lower than control values, respectively. High correlations between A, E and gs were observed. Plant water status recovered within 15 days after the resumption of irrigation and was associated with recovery of soil water content. A relatively rapid and complete recovery of A and gs was also observed, although the recovery was slower than for Ψpd and RWC. Severe water stress during the kernel-filling stage resulted in premature defoliation (caused by increased leaf abscission) and a reduction in leaf growth rate, which decreased tree leaf area. Although kernel yield was correlated with leaf water potential, RDI caused a nonsignificant 7% reduction in kernel yield and had no effect on kernel size. The RDI treatment also improved water-use efficiency because about 30% less irrigation water was applied in the RDI treatment than in the control treatment. We conclude that high-cropping almonds can be successfully grown in semiarid regions in an RDI regime provided that Ψpd is maintained above a threshold value of -2 MPa.
|Pages:||303 - 312|
almonds, carbon dioxide, crop yield, drought,evapotranspiration, gas exchange, irrigation, leaf fall, leaves, plantdevelopment, plant water relations, water stress, water use, water useefficiency, Prunus dulcis, Prunus, Rosaceae, Rosales, dicotyledons,angiosperms, Spermatophyta, plants, eukaryotes, watering, HorticulturalCrops (FF003) (New March 2000), Plant Physiology and Biochemistry(FF060), Plant Water Relations (FF062), Plant Production (FF100), SoilWater Management (Irrigation and Drainage) (JJ800) (Revised June 2002)[formerly Soil Water Management]