Saline agricultural drainage water may be used as a resource to grow high value horticultural crops and reduce the volume of drainage for eventual disposal. To explore reuse options the effects of salinity and timing of application were tested on selected leafy vegetables grown in 24 sand culture plots in Riverside, Calif. The leafy winter vegetables included `Ruby Red Chard' Swiss chard [Beta vulgaris L. var. flavescens (Lam.) Lam.], `Space' spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.), `Vitamin Green' salad greens [Brassica rapa L. (Narinosa Group)], `Red Giant' mustard greens [Brassica juncea L. (Czerniak)], pac choi [Brassica rapa L. (Chinensis Group)], `Winterbor' kale [Brassica oleracea L. (Acephala Group)], tatsoi [Brassica rapa L. (Narinosa Group)], `Salad King' curly endive (Cichorium endivia L.), and `Red Preco No. 1' radicchio (Cichorium intybus L.). All vegetables were planted at the same time and irrigated initially with tap water and nutrients. At 3 and 7 weeks after seeding (application times), six salinity treatments were initiated by adding salts to the irrigation water to represent the chemical compositions of drainage waters found typically in the San Joaquin Valley, Calif. The six salinity treatments had electrical conductivities of 3 (control), 7, 11, 15, 19, or 23 dS·m-1. A randomized complete block design was used with (6 salinities × 2 application times × 2 replications). Within each plot a 1.5-m row of each of the nine vegetables was grown as split plots. Salinity reduced fresh weight (FW) yields of all species. Salt stress applied at 3 weeks after seeding reduced FWs for seven of the nine vegetables compared to salination at 7 weeks. Analyses of salt tolerance curves, maximum yields, and the point of 50% yield reduction (C50) were conducted. Greens produced the highest biomass at 874 g/plant, but was the most affected by application time. Swiss chard and radicchio were not significantly affected by timing of salinity application, and Swiss chard was the most salt tolerant overall. Greens, kale, pac choi, and to a lesser extent, tatsoi, have potential as winter-grown, leafy vegetables in drainage water reuse systems.
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