Over-tree Microsprinkler Irrigation for Spring Freeze Protection of Peaches

in HortScience
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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602

“The feasibility of using an over-tree microsprinkler irrigation system for spring freeze protection of `Loring' peach trees [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] was evaluated under a range of meteorological conditions during Winter 1988-89. Microsprinklers were attached to the underside of polyethylene laterals 2.5 m above ground level and centered over the tree rows. Irrigation rates of 0, 27, 36, and 44 liters/hour per tree were tested on trees trained to an open-center habit using microsprinklers that produced a circular wetting pattern. Microsprinkler irrigation maintained average bud temperature above -2C and 2 to 5C above those of nonirrigated trees under calm conditions, but provided no protection under windy conditions. Flower bud temperatures of irrigated trees were similar for 36 and 44 liters·hour-1, but were slightly lower for 27 liters·hour-1 under conditions typical of spring freezes. Limb breakage due to ice loading was negligible for all application rates, even under advective freeze conditions. Calculated water and energy consumption were reduced by at least 50% and 88%, respectively, by the microsprinkler system, compared to a typical overhead sprinkler system.

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