Lysimeter-based Crop Coefficients for Young Highbush Blueberries

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  • 1 Rutgers Research and Development Center, 121 Northville Road, Bridgeton, NJ 08302
  • 2 Plant Science Department, Foran Hall, P.O. Box 231, New Brunswick, NJ 08903

Inexpensive weighing lysimeters ($1475/unit) were constructed for measuring evapotranspiration of young highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L.). The use of a single load cell and other design characteristics decreased lysimeter measurement accuracy but minimized lysimeter construction costs. Measurement error was within ±3%. Crop coefficient (CC) curves for 5- and 6-year-old `Bluecrop' highbush blueberry plants in their third and fourth year of production were generated using reference evapotranspiration and crop water use data from the 1991 and 1992 growing seasons. The CC increased during leaf expansion and flowering in the spring to its maximum value of about 0.19 in 1991 and 0.27 in 1992 and remained near these values until leaves began senescing in the fall. Water use on sunny days during June, July, and August ranged from (liters/bush each day) 3.5 to 4.0 in 1991 and 4.0 to 4.5 in 1992. During the second year of the study, plants had an average height of 0.9 m, an average diameter of 0.9 m, and covered 18% of the total cultivated area. The maximum calculated CC was equal to 1.5 times the measured canopy cover percentage.

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