EFFECTS OF PREHARVEST IRRIGATION CUTOFF DURATION ON FRENCH PRUNE TREE PERFORMANCE

in HortScience

Variable lengths of water deprivation immediately prior to harvest were imposed on mature French prune trees for four consecutive years. Irrigation cutoff durations were about 45, 37, 30, 22, 17 and 12 days prior to harvest during 1986-89.

Predawn leaf water potential best reflected water deprivation length and reached minimum values of about -1.5 MPa with the most severe cutoff. Magnitude of peak stomatal conductance was reduced and occurred earlier in the day with longer cutoff regimes.

Rate and time-course development of preharvest fruit drop was variable from year-to-year, but there were no significant differences in total drop between cutoff treatments. Only in the fourth year, following three years of no difference were tree fruit load and yield significantly reduced but then only with the most severe cutoff. Soluble solids were higher and drying ratios lower with the longer cutoffs. Fruit size was significantly reduced in the third year of the experiment. Trunk circumferences were significantly lower only with trees subjected to the longer cutoff regimes.

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