Production, Growth, and Nut Quality in Pecans under Water Stress Based on the Crop Water Stress Index

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Department of Plant Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721
  • | 2 Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721
  • | 3 Cooperative Extension, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721
  • | 4 Department of Plant Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721

The crop water stress index (CWSI), based on the relationship between the canopy temperature of a well-watered plant in full sunlight and the atmospheric water content, numerically quantifies water stress. A 4-year study was established to determine the long-term effect of water application levels on production, nut quality characteristics, and growth of pecans [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) C. Koch cv. Western Schley]. Highest yields were attained when trees were relatively nonstressed (CWSI ≤ 0.08). Trees subjected to moderate water stress before irrigation (CWSI ≥ 0.20) showed reduced yield, nut weight, and tree growth, although water-use efficiency increased. With water management practices resulting in maximum yield, nut size, and tree growth (CWSI ≤ 0.08), tree water use varied up to 44% in the same orchard, depending on crop load and yearly climatic variations.

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