Onion Response to Water Stress

in HortScience
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  • 1 Malheur Experiment Station, 595 Onion Ave., Ontario, OR 97914.

Six soil water potential irrigation criteria (–12.5 to –100 kPa) were examined to determine levels for maximum onion yield and quality. Soil water potential at 0.2-m depth was measured by tensiometers and granular matrix sensors (Watermark Model 20055, Irrometer Co., Riverside, Calif.). Onions are highly sensitive to small soil water deficits. The crop needs frequent irrigations to maintain small negative soil water potentials for maximum yields. In each of 3 years, yield and bulb size increased with wetter treatments. In 1994, a relatively warm year, onion yield and bulb size were maximized at –12.5 kPa. In 1993, a relatively cool year, onion marketable yield peaked at –37.5 kPa due to a significant increase in rot during storage following the wetter treatments.

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