Drought Tolerance of Navajo and Lovell Peach Trees: Precision Water Stress Using Automated Weighing Lysimeters

in HortScience

Native American tribes have been cultivating peaches [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] since their introduction to North America in the 1600s. In the American Southwest, peach orchards derived from centuries of seed selections have been maintained in relative isolation from commercial cultivars. These Native American peach selections may be better adapted to the arid climate of the Intermountain West. We compared physiological robustness during water stress of seedling peaches from a 60-year-old orchard maintained by Navajo farmers in southwestern Utah to the commercial peach rootstock Lovell. Six replicate trees of each rootstock were subjected to eight cycles of controlled drought on an automated lysimeter system, which monitored transpiration rate continuously. Trees were selected for uniform size and transpiration rate at the start of the study. During the drought cycles, individual trees were watered when their transpiration rate decreased to less than 250 g of water per day, ≈20% of their well-watered daily transpiration rate. After the first cycle of drought, the transpiration rate of the Navajo trees was greater than the Lovell trees, so they depleted their root-zone water more rapidly and experienced greater water stress. Despite greater stress, the Navajo selection had greater leaf area and dry weight at harvest. Because the root system was confined, these results indicate that the Navajo selection may have greater resilience when experiencing drought, independent of the depth and distribution of the root system. However, this study was not able to determine whether physiological resilience during drought was a result of canopy or root characteristics. Field studies are needed to determine whether root distribution or depth also contribute to drought tolerance in the Navajo selection.

Contributor Notes

Funding for this project was made possible by a U.S. Department of Agriculture–National Institute of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant administered by the Utah Department of Agriculture, the Utah Water Initiative grant program, and by the Utah Agriculture Experiment Station, Utah State University, journal paper no. 9148.

We thank the Tsinajinnie family for their donation of seed and continued support. We also thank the following people for their extensive technical support and intellectual contributions: Alec Hay, James Frisby, Lance Stott, Teryl Roper, and Dan Drost.

Corresponding author. E-mail: bruce.bugbee@usu.edu.

Article Sections

Article Figures

  • View in gallery

    Navajo and Lovell peach seedlings on the lysimeter system at the start of trial 1 (A) and trial 2 (B). The two lysimeter plates, enclosing the load cell, are visible at the bottom of the container. Containers were covered with a layer of perlite to minimize evaporation from the soil surface, and were wrapped with insulation to reduce daily temperature fluctuation of the root zone. The solenoids and drip lines are shown. Four drought cycles were imposed in the two trials, with a 2-week recovery period between trials.

  • View in gallery

    Cumulative transpiration for Navajo (black line) and Lovell (red line; color in online version only) peach selections. Data were normalized to the first day of the trial. Cumulative transpiration rates were used to trigger irrigation and provide an indication of the size of the trees. When the cumulative transpiration of an individual tree fell to less than 250 g per day, irrigation was triggered, returning the soil to field capacity. Error bars indicate se. *P < 0.05, **P < 0.01, and ***P < 0.001.

  • View in gallery

    Daily transpiration rate during maximum drought stress as a percentage of the maximum daily well-watered transpiration rate. There were four drought cycles in each trial. Each load cell was controlled independently. When cumulative transpiration fell to less than 250 g per day, irrigation was triggered. Because the Navajo trees grew more rapidly during the trial, they had a greater transpiration rate and thus were subject to greater stress, as indicated by the lower percentage of the maximum daily transpiration rate at the time of irrigation. Error bars indicate se. The differences in drought stress between selections was statistically significant in trial 1 (P = 0.02) but not in trial 2.

  • View in gallery

    Navajo and Lovell peach trees at harvest. The increased leaf area and leaf number are visually apparent in the photo. Navajo trees tended to have more horizontal branching than Lovell. Although the Navajo root ball weight was 36% greater than the Lovell, the difference was not statistically significant.

Article References

  • AbramsM.D.1994Genotypic and phenotypic variation as stress adaptations in temperate tree species: A review of several case studiesTree Physiol.14833842

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AdamsS.LordanJ.FazioG.BugbeeB.FrancescattoP.RobinsonT.L.BlackB.2018Effect of scion and graft type on transpiration, hydraulic resistance and xylem hormone profile of apples grafted on Geneva®41 and M.9-NIC™29 rootstocksScientia Hort.227213222

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ArndtS.K.WanekW.CliffordS.C.PoppM.2000Contrasting adaptations to drought stress in field-grown Ziziphus mauritiana and Prunus persica trees: Water relations, osmotic adjustment and carbon isotope compositionFunct. Plant Biol.27985996

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AtkinsonC.J.PolicarpoM.WebsterA.D.KudenA.M.1999Drought tolerance of apple rootstocks: Production and partitioning of dry matterPlant Soil206223235

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BenavidesF.A.1996A harvest of reluctant souls: The memorial of Fray Alonzo de Benavides 1630. Trans. B.H. Morrow. University Press of Colorado Boulder CO

  • Ben-GalA.KoolD.AgamN.van HalsemaG.E.YermiyahuU.YafeA.PresnovE.ErelR.MajdopA.ZiporiI.SegalE.RugerS.ZimmermannU.CohenY.AlchanatisV.DagA.2010Whole-tree water balance and indicators for short-term drought stress in non-bearing ‘Barnea’ olivesAgr. Water Mgt.98124133

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BlackB.L.DrostD.LindstromT.ReeveJ.GunnellJ.ReighardG.L.2010A comparison of root distribution patterns among Prunus rootstocksJ. Amer. Pomol. Soc.645262

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BrédaN.GranierA.1996Intra- and interannual variations of transpiration, leaf area index and radial growth of a sessile oak stand (Quercus petraea)Ann. Sci. For.53521536

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BuntA.C.1988Media and mixes for container-grown plants. 2nd ed. Unwin Hyman London UK

  • ChahalP.S.IrmakS.JugulamM.JhalaA.J.2018Evaluating effect of degree of water stress on growth and fecundity of Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) using soil moisture sensorsWeed Sci.66738745

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ChardJ.van IerselM.BugbeeB.2016Mini-lysimeters to monitor transpiration and control drought stress: System design and unique applications. 12 Sept. 2018. <https://www.semanticscholar.org>

  • ErnstT.RowleyS.D.BlackB.L.RoperT.R.2012Reviewing potential local fruit markets: A Utah case studyJ. Amer. Pomol. Soc.661622

  • FereresE.EvansR.2006Irrigation of fruit trees and vines: An introductionIrrig. Sci.245557

  • FergusonT.J.1996Historic architecture & society. University of Arizona Press Tucson AZ

  • GironaJ.MataM.FereresE.GoldhamerD.A.CohenM.2002Evapotranspiration and soil water dynamics of peach trees under water deficitsAgr. Water Mgt.54107122

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HandrekK.A.BlackN.D.2005Growing media for ornamental plants and turf. University of New South Wales Press Ltd. Sydney NSW Australia

  • HillelD.1998Environmental soil physics. Academic Press San Diego CA

  • JettS.C.1977History of fruit tree raising among the NavajoAgr. Hist.51681701

  • JettS.C.1979Peach cultivation and use among the Canyon de Chelly NavajoEcon. Bot.33298310

  • JiménezS.DridiJ.GutiérrezD.MoretD.IrigoyenJ. J.MorenoM. A.GogorcenaY.2013Physiological, biochemical and molecular responses in four Prunus rootstocks submitted to drought stressTree Physiol.3310611075

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • JonesH.G.2004Irrigation scheduling: Advantages and pitfalls of plant-based methodsJ. Expt. Bot.5524272436

  • MellishoC.D.CruzZ.N.ConejeroW.OrtuñoM.F.RodríguezP.2011Mechanisms for drought resistance in early maturing cvar Flordastar peach treesJ. Agr. Sci.149609616

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ObojesN.MeurerA.NeweselyC.TasserE.OberhuberW.MayrS.TappeinerU.2018Water stress limits transpiration and growth of European larch up to the lower subalpine belt in an inner-alpine dry valleyNew Phytol.220460475

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RiegerM.DuemmelM.J.1992Comparison of drought resistance among Prunus species from divergent habitatsTree Physiol.11369380

  • SchaibleG.D.AilleryM.P.2017Challenges for US irrigated agriculture in the face of emerging demands and climate change p. 44–79. In: J. Ziolkowska and J.M. Peterson (eds.). Competition for water resources. Elsevier Cambridge MA

  • SingletaryL.EmmS.Loma’omvayaM.ClarkJ.LivingstonM.JohnsonM.K.OdenR.2014People of the land: Sustaining agriculture on the Hopi reservation. Univ. of NV. Coop. Ext. Reno NV

  • StrzepekK.BoehlertB.2010Competition for water for the food systemPhil. Trans. R. Soc. B36529272940

  • TworkoskiT.FazioG.GlennD.M.2016Apple rootstock resistance to droughtScientia Hort.2047078

  • WelanderN.T.OttossonB.2000The influence of low light, drought and fertilization on transpiration and growth in young seedlings of Quercus robur LFor. Ecol. Mgt.127139151

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Article Information

Google Scholar

Related Content

Article Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 130 130 52
Full Text Views 40 40 13
PDF Downloads 21 21 7