The decrease in irrigation water availability mandates a more efficient use of water in agriculture. Merging new orchard designs with more efficient irrigation systems can result in lower water consumption (Fallahi et al., 2007a, 2007b) while producing higher quality fruit (Behboudian and Mills, 1997; Behboudian et al., 2005; Fallahi et al., 2007a, 2007b; Naor, 2006). The method of irrigation and injection of nutrients, particularly nitrogen (N) through water, affects water consumption and fruit quality in apples which are critical issues in many parts of the world, including the Pacific northwestern region of the North America (Fallahi et al., 2007a; Neilsen et al., 1994, 2009).
Leib et al. (2006) indicated that fruit size and yield of ‘Fuji’ apple in DI were similar to those of partial root zone drying irrigation and conventional irrigation (CI) in the semiarid climate of Washington State. Naor et al. (2008) reported that yield and fruit size decreased as the rate of irrigation was reduced in ‘Golden Delicious’ apple in Israel. Previous reports indicate that a reduction in water application may result in reduction in apple firmness, relating this observation to the advanced maturity in fruit with water stress (Drake et al., 1981; Mills et al., 1994). However, other researchers have shown that apples from nonirrigated plots were firmer than those from irrigated plots (Assaf et al., 1975; Guelfat-Reich and Ben-Arie, 1979; Guelfat-Reich et al., 1974), perhaps because fruit from nontreated plots had smaller size (Assaf et al., 1975).
Irrigation with a drip system uses less water than sprinkler irrigation (Fallahi et al., 2007b; Proebsting, 1994). However, irrigation through microjet sprinkler systems can improve the establishment and maintenance of orchard floor vegetation. Microjet sprinklers also create a cooler environment in the orchards under fruit-growing conditions of Washington and Idaho (E. Fallahi, personal observation). Research has been conducted with orchard fertigation through drip systems in British Columbia (Neilsen et al., 2006; Yao et al., 2001) and Europe (Zydlik and Pacholak, 2001). Although there has been some progress in understanding micro-irrigation systems and N application (Chun et al., 2001; Fallahi et al., 2001a, 2001b; Neilsen and Neilsen, 2006; Neilsen et al., 2004, 2008), information on yield and fruit quality in new apple cultivars under various regimes of drip or microjet sprinkler irrigation systems in the Pacific Northwest is lacking. Thus, the objective of this long-term experiment was to study the effect of five irrigation treatments consisting of two microjet sprinkler and three drip systems, using an ETc-based water scheduling, and two levels of N (40 g N/tree and 80 g N/tree) on water use, yield, and harvest-time fruit quality attributes in fully mature ‘Autumn Rose Fuji’ trees.
We thank the Idaho Apple Commission, International Fruit Tree Association, Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, and the Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station for their financial support of this project. We are also thankful to the Columbia Basin and C & O Nurseries in Washington State for providing the experimental trees and to Richard L. Bronson, Pipeco, Fruitland, Idaho for his invaluable contribution and assistance in designing the irrigation layout and providing the irrigation materials for this project.
Allen, R.G., Pereira, L.S., Raes, D. & Smith, M. 1998 Crop evapotranspiration. Guidelines for computing crop water requirements. FAO Irrig. Drain. Pap. 56. FAO, Rome, Italy
Assaf, R., Levin, I. & Bravdo, B. 1975 Effect of irrigation regimes on trunk and fruit growth rates, quality and yield J. Hort. Sci. 50 481 493
Bartram, R.D., Bramlage, W., Kupferman, E.M., Olsen, K.L., Patterson, M.E. & Thompson, J. 1993 Apple maturity program handbook. USDA-ARS Tree Fruit Research Station, Wenatchee, WA
Behboudian, M.H., Mpelasoka, B.S., Singh, Z. & Mills, T.M. 2005 Quality responses of deciduous fruits to deficit irrigation, p. 33–43. In: R. Dris (ed.). Fruits: Growth, nutrition, and quality. WFL Publisher (Science & Technology), Helsinki, Finland
Chun, I.J., Fallahi, E., Colt, W.M., Shafii, B. & Tripepi, R.R. 2001 Effects of rootstocks and microsprinkler fertigation on mineral concentrations, yield, and fruit color of ‘BC-2 Fuji’ apple J. Amer. Pomol. Soc. 55 197 205
Drake, S.R., Proebsting, E.L., Mahan, M.O. & Thompson, J.B. 1981 Influence of trickle and sprinkle irrigation on ‘Golden Delicious’ apple quality J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 106 255 258
Fallahi, E., Chun, I.J., Neilsen, G.H. & Colt, W.M. 2001b Effects of three rootstocks on photosynthesis, leaf mineral nutrition, and vegetative growth of ‘BC-2 Fuji’ apple trees J. Plant Nutr. 24 827 834
Fallahi, E., Colt, W.M. & Fallahi, B. 2001a Optimum ranges of leaf nitrogen for yield, fruit quality, and photosynthesis in ‘BC-2 Fuji’ Apple. J. Amer. Pomol. Soc. 55 68 75
Fallahi, E., Fallahi, B., Shafii, B. & Morales, B. 2007a Water use, tree growth, and leaf mineral nutrients of young ‘Fuji’ apples as influenced by different irrigation systems Acta Hort. 721 63 70
Fallahi, E., Ratnaprabha, R., Tripepi, R., Shafii, B. & Fallahi, B. 2007b Tree growth, yield, fruit quality, and mineral partitioning as affected by rootstock and irrigation methods Intl. J. Fruit Sci. 7 3 24
Guelfat-Reich, S., Assaf, R., Bravdo, B.A. & Levin, I. 1974 The keeping quality of apples in storage as affected by different irrigation regimes J. Hort. Sci. 49 217 225
Guelfat-Reich, S. & Ben-Arie, R. 1979 Effect of irrigation on fruit quality at harvest and during storage. Proc. XV Intl. Congr. Refrig., Belgium 3:423–427
Kilili, A.W., Behboudian, M.H. & Mills, T.M. 1996 Composition and quality of ‘Braeburn’ apples under reduced irrigation Scientia Hort. 67 1 11
Kramer, P.J. 1983 Water relations of plants. Academic Press, New York, NY
Leib, B.G., Caspari, H.W., Redulla, C.A., Andrews, P.K. & Jabro, J.J. 2006 Partial root zone drying and deficit irrigation of ‘Fuji’ apples in a semi-arid climate Irr. Sci. 24 85 99
Mills, T.M., Behboudian, M.H., Tan, P.Y. & Clothier, B.E. 1994 Plant water status and fruit quality in ‘Braeburn’ apples HortScience 29 1274 1278
Mpelasoka, B.S., Behboudian, M.H., Dixon, J., Neal, S.M. & Caspari, H.W. 2000 Improvement of fruit quality and storage potential of ‘Braeburn’ apple through deficit irrigation J. Hort. Sci. Biotechnol. 75 615 621
Mpelasoka, B.S., Behboudian, M.H. & Ganesh, S. 2001 Fruit quality attributes and their interrelationships of ‘Braeburn’ apple in response to deficit irrigation and to crop load Gartenbauwissenschaft 66 247 253
Neilsen, D., Neilsen, G.H., Gregory, D., Forge, T. & Zebarth, B.J. 2008 Drainage losses of water, N and P from micro-irrigation systems in a young, high density apple planting Acta Hort. 792 483 490
Neilsen, D., Smith, S., Frank, G., Koch, W., Alila, Y., Merritt, W., Taylor, B., Barton, M., Hall, J. & Cohen, S. 2006 Potential impacts of climate change on water availability for crops in the Okanagan Basin, British Columbia Can. J. Soil Sci. 86 909 924
Neilsen, G.H. & Neilsen, D. 2006 Response of high density apple orchards on course-textured soil to form of potassium applied by fertigation Can. J. Soil Sci. 86 749 755
Neilsen, G.H., Neilsen, D. & Herbert, L.C. 2009 Nitrogen fertigation concentration and timing of application affect nitrogen nutrition, yield, firmness, and color of apples grown at high density HortScience 44 1425 1431
Neilsen, G.H., Neilsen, D., Herbert, L.C. & Hogue, E.J. 2004 Response of apple to fertigation of N and K under conditions susceptible to the development of K deficiency J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 129 26 31
Neilsen, G.H., Parchomchuck, P. & Neilsen, D. 1994 Fertigation of fruit trees: The B.C. experience, p. 191–199. In: A.B. Peterson and R.G. Stevens (eds.). Tree fruit nutrition. Good Fruit Grower, Yakima, WA
O’Connell, M.G. & Goodwin, I. 2007 Responses of ‘Pink Lady’ apple to deficit irrigation and partial root zone drying: Physiology, growth, yield, and fruit quality Austral. J. Agr. Res. 58 1068 1076
Proebsting, E. 1994 Strategy development for managing drought, p. 39–50. In: K.M. Williams and T.W. Ley (eds.). Tree fruit irrigation. Good Fruit Grower, Yakima, WA
Talluto, G., Farina, V., Volpe, G. & Lo Bianco, R. 2008 Effects of partial root zone drying and rootstock vigor on growth and fruit quality of ‘Pink Lady’ apple trees in Mediterranean environments Austral. J. Agr. Res. 59 785 794
Washington State University 2017 Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center. 10 Aug. 2017. <http://www.tfrec.wsu.edu>.
Yao, S., Neilsen, G.H. & Neilsen, D. 2001 Effects of water stress on growth and mineral composition of ‘Gala’ apple fruit Acta Hort. 564 449 456
Zydlik, Z. & Pacholak, E. 2001 Fertigation effects on the concentration of mineral components in the soil and leaves, and the yield and quality of fruits in two apple tree cultivars Acta Hort. 564 457 463