Soil Water Uptake Patterns of Pecan Trees Grown in Coarse Gravelly Soils

in HortTechnology
Authors:
Ronald B. SorensenUSDA-ARS, National Peanut Research Laboratory, 1011 Forrester Dr. SE., Dawson, GA 31742.

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Tim L. JonesDepartment Of Agronomy and Horticulture, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003.

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Soil depth for water uptake in pecan trees [Carya illinoensis (Wangenh.) C. Koch `Western Schley'] is considered to be <100 cm (3.2 ft) for sites that have high water tables. The objective of this research was to determine the water uptake pattern of pecan trees grown on sites with a deep water table [>30 m (100 ft)] and irrigated at 50 kPa (0.5 bar). Trees (15- to 20-year-old trunks) were transplanted into laser-leveled terraces in 1986. Two terraces (T) were selected and irrigated (1994 and 1995) at 50 kPa (T5) and farmer controlled [T6, weekly at ≈30 kPa (0.3 bar)]. Soil water content was measured on a 1.3 by 1.3 m (4 ft by 4 ft) grid for one tree in each terrace using a neutron probe. In 1994, the average soil depth for water uptake was 75 (2.5 ft) and 62 cm (2.0 ft) for T5 and T6 respectively. In 1995, the average soil depth for water uptake was 150 cm (5 ft) on T5 and 130 cm (4 ft) on T6. The total quantity of water removed below 140 cm (4.6 ft) soil depth was minor (<15%) when compared with the total water removed between 0 and 140 cm depth. T5 showed a deeper (260 cm; 8.5 ft) and wider (3.0 to 5.0 m; 10 to 16 ft) water uptake pattern compared with T6. Thus, pecan trees growing on these coarse soils with a deep water table and irrigated at 50 kPa have an effective root zone of ≈140 to 150 cm (4.6 to 5.0 ft).

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