Antitranspirant Reduces Water Use by Peach Trees Following Harvest

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Department of Agricultural Engineering Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843
  • 2 Texas A&M University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Stephenville, TX 76401

The potential for reducing water use of peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] trees with antitranspirants following fruit harvest was investigated using matched peach trees planted in an outdoor twin weighing lysimeter facility. A 10% solution of the antitranspirant Wilt Pruf NCF was applied to one of the two trees on 7 July 1986. Immediately after application, water use of the treated tree was reduced by 40%. One month after treatment, the water use was reduced 30% and, by the termination of the experiment (85 days after treatment), water use was reduced 12% as compared to control. The average reduction in tree water use for the entire period was 30%. Fully expanded, sunlit leaves (nodes 10 to 20 from the terminal end) from the treated tree exhibited the greatest reduction in water loss compared with immature or inner canopy, shaded leaves. Use of the antitranspirant did not prevent the development of water stress once a critical level of soil moisture was reached. The change in tree water use induced by the antitranspirant did not significantly reduce shoot length, new leaf production, or individual leaf size on actively growing, current-season branches. Fruit and leaf bud initiation, as measured the following spring, were not affected: however. flower bud maturation could not be evaluated due to freeze damage. Chemical name used: di-1-p-menthene (Wilt Pruf NCF).

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