Potato Yield and Quality Response to Deficit Irrigation

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  • 1 Malheur Experiment Station, Oregon State University, 595 Onion Avenue, Ontario, OR 97914

Four potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) varieties were grown under four season-long sprinkler irrigation treatments in three successive years (1992-94) on silt loam soil in eastern Oregon. The check treatment was irrigated when soil water potential (SWP) at the 0.2-m depth reached -60 J·kg-1 and received at most the accumulated evapotranspiration (Etc) to avoid exceeding the water-holding capacity of the top 0.3 m of soil. The three deficit irrigation treatments were irrigated when SWP at the 0.2-m depth reached -80 J·kg-1 and had the following percent of the accumulated Etc applied at each irrigation: 1) 100%, 2) 70%, and 3) 70% during tuber bulking with 50% thereafter. Based on regression of applied water over 3 years, potatoes lost both total and U.S. No. 1 yields when irrigations were reduced. Based on regression on applied water, when irrigation was reduced gross revenues declined more than production costs, resulting in a reduction in profits. Leaching potential, as determined by the SWP treatments, was low for all treatments. The results of the study suggest that deficit irrigation of potatoes in the Treasure Valley of Oregon would not be a viable management tool, because the small financial benefits would not offset the high risks of reduced yields and profits from the reduced water applications.

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