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Crop load regulation and irrigation strategies to accelerate the recovery of previously water-stressed Japanese plum trees

journal contribution
posted on 2014-01-31, 00:00 authored by D S Intrigliolo, Carlos Ballester LurbeCarlos Ballester Lurbe, J R Castel
tRegulated deficit irrigation (RDI) has been proven as a useful irrigation strategy in a wide range of fruitcrops to deal with water scarcity. However, long-term RDI techniques in developing orchards can reducetree growth resulting in a loss of tree yield capacity. Strategies that could be used to quickly recover treesfrom the possible carry-over effects of long-term deficit irrigation are then of physiological and commer-cial interest. Tree crop load is a determinant factor of the carbohydrates partitioning between fruit andvegetative sinks, being fruit sink strength higher than that of vegetative organs. The working hypothesisof this study was that tree crop load reduction could be employed to alleviate the detrimental effects thatlong lasting RDI strategies have on tree growth. The recovery of a young plum Japanese orchard (Prunussalicina, cv. ‘Black Gold’) after seven seasons under RDI was studied by testing combinations of two cropload levels (medium and low), two drip irrigation regimes [100 and 133% of crop evapotranspiration(ETc)] and two different number of emitters per tree (six and eight). Results showed that treatmentsapplied led former RDI treatment trees to significantly reduce their differences in tree shaded area andparticularly in trunk perimeter with respect to the control treatment trees. After two seasons of treat-ments, differences in yield, economic return and number of fruit per tree were exclusively due to the cropload levels imposed and not to a smaller size of former RDI treatment trees. Trees watered at 133% ETcand thinned at low crop load, which underwent a very severe RDI strategy previous to this experiment,were the trees that showed the greatest recovery in tree size. In this treatment, the lower competitionbetween fruit and vegetative growth and the increase in the soil wetting area by using a higher numberof emitters per tree, probably favored root growth significantly increasing tree growth with respect tothe other treatments. Overall, this work shows that crop load regulation is a useful tool to quickly recoverplum trees from the detrimental effects of long-term deficit irrigation.



Agricultural water management




23 - 29




Amsterdam, The Netherlands





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2013, Elsevier