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  • Author or Editor: Avraham Karady x
  • HortScience x
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Field experiments were conducted to examine the effect of fertilization and short periods of drought on the out-of-season winter crop in prickly pear [Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill.]. In addition, the winter and summer crops were compared regarding floral bud production and fruit characteristics. Under both continuous fertigation (N, P, K applied with the irrigation water) and continuous irrigation, the number of floral buds per plant was much lower in the winter than in the summer crop. Fertilization increased production of floral buds in both crops, but to a greater extent in the winter crop. The increase in floral bud production in fertilized plants was associated with an increase in NO3-N content in the cladodes. Suspension of fertigation for 4 or 8 weeks immediately after the summer harvest decreased cladode water content and delayed and reduced floral bud emergence as compared with continuous fertigation (control) or late drought (4 or 8 weeks) applied 4 weeks after the summer harvest. The plants subjected to early drought suffered from high mortality of floral buds. The fruits of the winter crop ripened in early spring, following the pattern of floral bud emergence the previous autumn. Mean fresh weight and peel: pulp ratio (w/w) were higher in fruits that ripened in the spring (winter crop) than in fruits that ripened in the summer.

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Abstract

With the aim of inducing early cropping, the effects of irrigation, fertilization, and polyethylene covering on bud emergence were studied in a 1-year-old plantation of prickly pear (Opuntia fucus-indica Mill.) established on sandy soil in the western Negev desert of Israel. Interruption of either irrigation and fertilization (N, P, K) or of irrigation in winter reduced the number of floral buds per plant and slightly delayed their emergence when compared to plants receiving continuous irrigation and fertilization. Polyethylene covering placed over the plants from mid-February to the end of March induced early floral bud emergence associated with early flowering, but was accompanied by a significant decrease in the number of floral buds per plant.

Open Access