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David R. Bryla and Bernadine C. Strik

to water stress and is capable of quickly limiting its transpirational water losses during soil water deficits ( Améglio et al., 1999 ). We previously found that regardless of plant spacing and cultivar, g S in highbush blueberry decreased almost

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Clinton C. Shock, Erik B.G. Feibert, and Lamont D. Saunders

Six soil water potential irrigation criteria (–12.5 to –100 kPa) were examined to determine levels for maximum onion yield and quality. Soil water potential at 0.2-m depth was measured by tensiometers and granular matrix sensors (Watermark Model 20055, Irrometer Co., Riverside, Calif.). Onions are highly sensitive to small soil water deficits. The crop needs frequent irrigations to maintain small negative soil water potentials for maximum yields. In each of 3 years, yield and bulb size increased with wetter treatments. In 1994, a relatively warm year, onion yield and bulb size were maximized at –12.5 kPa. In 1993, a relatively cool year, onion marketable yield peaked at –37.5 kPa due to a significant increase in rot during storage following the wetter treatments.

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Eric H. Simonne, Doyle A. Smittle, and Harry A. Mills

Abbreviations: Ai, allowable water use; ASW, available soil water; CF, crop factor; di, daily water use; Di, cumulative soil water deficit; DAP, days after planting; Ep, class A pan evaporation; ET, evapotranspiration; i, plant age; I, irrigation; R

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Eric Simonne, James Bannon, and Marvin Ruf

Sweetpotato (Ipomea batatas L.) is a drought-tolerant crop mostly produced without irrigation. Consequently, sweetpotato may be exposed to temporary water stress. In 1997, an irrigation scheduling model using a water balance and class A pan evaporation (Ep) was evaluated with `Beauregard' on a loam sandy soil. The model was (12.7 DAT + 76) 0.5 ASW = DDAT-1 + [Ep (0.12 + 0.023 DAT – 0.00019 DAT2) – RDAT – IDAT], where DAT is days after transplanting (DAT = 0 on 20 June), ASW is available soil water (15%), D is soil water deficit (mm), R is rainfall (mm), and I is irrigation (mm). Root depth expanded at a rate of 13 mm/day to a maximum depth of 305 mm. Irrigation rates ranging between 0 and 145% of the model rate were created with sprinklers. The model scheduled 10 irrigations between DAT = 26 and 116 (harvest). Irrigation did not alter storage root quality, but did influence all the marketable grades (P < 0.01; R2 > 0.87). However, between 0 and 129% yield increases were linear and small, suggesting that the model overestimated sweetpotato water use. Thus, deficit irrigation between 50% to 70% of the model would have a limited effect on sweetpotato yields.

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L. Lombardini and J.A. Flore

The recent development of small portable infrared thermometers has made canopy temperature an easily measured characteristc in the field. Our objective was to correlate a reduction of soil water with foliage temperature and to compare it with other indicators of plant stress (Pn, E, gs, leaf expansion, sap flow). During Summer 1998, we evaluated the responses of potted apple rootstocks (cultivars Budagowski 9, M9, and Mark) to soil water deficit. Irrigation was withheld for 7 days, and the canopy temperature (Tc) was measured daily with an infrared camera. Tc was always higher than air temperature (Ta). Tc between control and stress plants began to differentiate from day 3. In Mark, this difference was maintained until the end of the experiment. However, gas exchange in Mark seemed to be less affected by the stress than in the other two cultivars. At day 7, midday stomatal conductance (gs) was 38.0, 32.3, and 72.0 mmol·m–2·s–1 in Budagowski 9, M9, and Mark, respectively (control values varied between 161.6 and 164.3 mmol·m–2·s–1 for all the cultivars). Heat-pulse sapflow sensors installed on Mark indicated that the speed of the xylem sap was affected by the stress from day 4 (19-26 cm/h for the controls vs. 15–21 cm/h for the stressed plants). Specific details on the physiological data will be presented.

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David L. Ehret, Brenda Frey, Tom Forge, Tom Helmer, and David R. Bryla

A study was conducted in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada, to determine the effects of drip configuration (one or two lines with emitters spaced every 0.3 or 0.45 m) and irrigation at moderate or heavy rates (5 or 10 L/plant) in a mature planting of ‘Duke’ highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.). Results were compared with those published previously from the first 4 years after planting. Although plant size increased with irrigation rate when the plants were younger, there was no added benefit of heavy irrigation on growth in the older plants. However, the plants became more sensitive to soil water deficits with age and, therefore, unlike when they were younger, had greater yields when more water was applied. Berry size and fruit firmness were little affected by irrigation in the older plants, but antioxidants, measured as oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), were higher with than without irrigation, suggesting that irrigation has the potential to improve the health benefits of blueberries. Growth, yield, and fruit quality were unaffected by drip configuration in any year. Overall, the results revealed that the response of highbush blueberry to drip irrigation changed over time and indicated that irrigation management should be adjusted as a planting matures.

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A. Richard Renquist, Horst W. Caspari, M. Hossein Behboudian, and David J. Chalmers

Stomatal conductance (g s) of `Hosui' Asian pear (Pyrus serotina Rehder) trees growing in lysimeters was characterized for trees in well-watered soil and after brief water deficit. The measures of water status used to interpret g s data were soil-water content, leaf water potential (ψl), and instantaneous water use (trunk sap flow by the compensation heat-pulse technique). The diurnal course and range of g s values of well-irrigated Asian pear trees were similar to those reported for other tree fruit crops. Soil moisture at the end of a midsummer deficit period was 60% of lysimeter pot capacity, and diurnal ψl reflected this deficit predawn and in the late afternoon compared to well-irrigated trees. The g s was sensitive to deficit irrigation during more of the day than ψl, with g s values <3 mm·s-1 for most of the day; these were less than half the conductances of well-irrigated trees. The reduction of g s in response to a given soil-water deficit was not as great on days with lower evaporative demand. After a water deficit, g s recovered to predeficit values only gradually over 2 to 3 days. The low g s of trees in dry soil was the apparent cause of reduced transpiration, measured by trunk sap flow, and reduced responsiveness of sap flow to fluctuations in net radiation.

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W.A. Erb, A.D. Draper, and H.J. Swartz

Interspecific blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) progenies were examined to determine combining abilities and genetic variability for seedling root system size and shoot vigor and to establish whether a large root system is correlated with good growth when plants are grown on a mineral soil and exposed to a moderate soil water deficit. General combining ability (GCA) variance components for root system size and shoot vigor and specific combining ability variance components for shoot vigor were significant. US226, a tetraploid hybrid of V. myrtilloides Michaux × V. atrococcum Heller, had the highest GCA effect for root system size and the lowest GCA effect for shoot vigor. US75 (V. darrowi Camp × V. corymbosum L.) had the highest GCA effect for shoot vigor and was second in GCA effect for root system size. Comparison of the crosses containing G111 (V. corymbosum) with those containing G362 (V. corymbosum) indicates that selecting for the best V. corymbosum clone to start a breeding program seems as important as selecting the mineral soil-adapted parent. Root system ratings were highly correlated with total dry weight of field-grown plants (r = 0.89). The method used in this study to evaluate seedlings for root system size and shoot vigor could be used to eliminate the less vigorous plants from a population before field planting and to evaluate mineral soil adaptability.

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Eric Simonne, Nadia Ouakrim, and Arnold Caylor

Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) is often produced as a nonirrigated crop in the southeastern United States. This practice makes tuber yields dependent on rainfall pattern and amount. An irrigation scheduling method based on a water balance and daily class A pan evaporation (Ep) was evaluated during 1996 and 1998 on a Hartsells fine sandy loam soil for `Red LaSoda' potatoes. Planting dates were 9 and 7 Apr. in 1996 and 1998, respectively, and standard production practices were followed each year. The model tested was (13 DAH + 191) * 0.5 ASW = D DAH-1 + [Ep * (0.12 + 0.023 DAH - 0.00019 DAH2) - RDAH - IDAH], where DAH was days after hilling, ASW was available soil water (0.13 mm/mm), D was soil water deficit (mm), R was rainfall (mm), and I was irrigation (mm). Controlled levels of water application ranging between 0% and 200% of the model rate were created with drip tapes. Four and seven irrigations were scheduled in 1996 and 1998, respectively. For both years, no interaction between irrigation regime and nitrogen rate was observed. Irrigation rate significantly influenced total yield and marketable yield (R 2 > 0.88, P < 0.01). Highest total yields occurred at 99% and 86% of the model rate in 1996 and 1998, respectively. These results show that supplementing rainfall with irrigation and controlling the amount of water applied by adjusting irrigation to actual weather conditions increased potato marketable yield. Over the 2-year period of the study, an average additional profit of $563/ha/year was calculated from costs and returns due to irrigation, suggesting that drip-irrigation may be economical for potato production.

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Eric H. Simonne, Joseph M. Kemble, and Arnold W. Caylor

Most potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) is produced as a non-irrigated crop in the southeastern United States. This practice makes potato yields dependent on rainfall pattern and amount. An irrigation scheduling method based on a water balance and class A pan evaporation data (Ep) was evaluated in Spring 1996 on a fine sandy loam soil with `LaSoda' potatoes. Planting date was 9 Apr. and standard production practices were followed. The model was (12.7 DAH + 191) * 0.5 ASW = D(DAH-1) + [Ep (0.12 + 0.023 DAH - 0.00019 DAH*DAH) - R(DAH) - I(DAH)], where DAH is days after hilling (DAH = 0 on 14 May), ASW is available soil water (0.13 mm/mm), D is soil water deficit (mm), R is rainfall (mm) and I is irrigation (mm). Root depth expanded at a rate of 13 mm/day to a maximum depth of 305 mm. Root depth at hilling was 191 mm. Controlled levels of water application ranging between 0% and 161% of the model rate were created with drip tapes. The model scheduled irrigations on 35, 39, 43 and 49 DAH. On 85 DAH, potatoes were harvested and graded. Irrigation influenced total yield, marketable yield, and combined US #1 grades (P < 0.01; R 2 > 0.85). Mean marketable yields were 19, 28, and 21 t/ha for the 0%, 100%, and 160% irrigation rates, respectively. These results suggest that supplementing rainfall with irrigation and controlling the amount of water applied by adjusting irrigation to actual weather conditions could increase potato yields. Excessive water, as well as limiting water, reduced potato yields.