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P. Parchomchuk, R.G. Berard, and C.S. Tan

We have found time domain reflectrometry (TDR) to be a rapid and effective method of measuring soil water content (SWC) in microirrigated orchards, particularly in applications where many sites are monitored frequently. With simple modifications to commercially available systems, it has been possible to measure up to 100 sites per hour. TDR SWC measurements have been successfully applied for scheduling irrigation and for in situ determination of SWC characteristics. The determination of plant water use from changes in SWC of microirrigated trees, however, requires that a sufficient number of probes be used to detect the spatial distribution of water within the root zone. Due to water redistribution in the soil following an irrigation, measurements made near drip emitters depend highly on the time after irrigation that the measurement is made. It is therefore important to be consistent in the timing of SWC measurements relative to irrigation events if the effects on SWC of different irrigation management practices are to be compared.

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J.M. Caprio, H.A. Quamme, and R. Berard

Winter freeze events, identified by horticulturists to lower yields or kill trees (estimates vary by year from 1000 to >200,000 trees), have occurred in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia 18 times in 94 years (1 in 5 years). To determine the association of winter temperatures and production, 72 years (1920–91) were separated into quartiles by level of production. Then, a maximum χ2 value was produced by a scanning iterative technique comparing each of the extreme quartiles with the combined mid-quartiles. A strong association was found between level of production and the low minimum temperatures in November, December, and February but not January. This result agrees with the historical records that indicate three winter-kill events occurred in November, five in December, one in January, and three in February during the same time period. Warm temperatures in September were associated with low production, indicating the possibility that warm temperatures at this time delay acclimation. Warm temperatures in January also were associated with low production, indicating a possible effect in hastening deacclimation.

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G.H. Neilsen, P. Parchomchuk, D. Neilsen, R. Berard, and E.J. Hague

`Gala' apple (Malus domestica Borkh) on M.26 rootstock was subjected, in the first five growing seasons, to NP-fertigation and a factorial combination of treatments involving method and frequency of irrigation. Two types of emitters (drip or microjet) were used to apply the same quantity of water at high (daily), intermediate (about weekly) and low (about bi-weekly) irrigation frequencies. Although initial tree vigor and yield were higher for drip-fertigated trees, by the end of the study microjet fertigation produced larger trees of similar yield. These microjet fertigated trees had higher leaf P, K and Cu but lower leaf N, Mg, and Mn than drip-fertigated trees. Soil pH and extractable Mg and K concentrations were higher and extractable-P concentrations lower directly beneath microjet-emitters as a result of the larger fertigated soil volume relative to drip-emitters. High frequency irrigation improved tree growth but had less effect on leaf nutrient concentrations or soil chemical changes than lower frequency irrigation. Leaf N concentration was most affected by irrigation frequency, tending to decrease with daily irrigation.