The influence of irrigation frequency and the severity and rate of development of soil water deficits on the vegetative growth and water status of carrots (Daucus carota L. var. sativa DC.) grown for seed were investigated in a fine sandy loam soil. Beginning with the period of rapid development of primary umbels, various irrigation frequencies [daily vs. intervals corresponding to 30 mm of accumulated crop evapotranspiration (ETc)] were investigated at irrigation rates ranging from 40% to 120% of estimated ETC. The magnitude and rate of development of soil water deficits markedly influenced carrot responses to developing water deficits. Stomata] conductance and leaf water potential (LWP) measurements exhibited some potential for use in irrigation scheduling and were the most sensitive and consistent indicators of plant water status. Under low-frequency continuous-deficit irrigation, a combination of moderate reductions in stomatal conductance and major reductions in peak leaf area and late-season maintenance of viable leaf area occurred. These responses were effective water-conserving mechanisms, allowing growth at a reduced rate and continued development of viable seed. In contrast, rapid development of soil water deficits resulted in nearly complete stomatal closure, cessation of growth, and rapid reductions in leaf area.
Seed yield and quality of carrot (Daucus carota var. sativa DC.) were influenced by a wide range of water application regimes and levels. Irrigation treatments were imposed beginning at the time of extension of the primary umbel and extending throughout the reproductive development period. The three application regimes used were: 1) a high-frequency, low water deficit treatment [100% of daily accumulated crop evapotranspiration (ETc)]; 2) a series of five low-frequency (irrigated after 30 mm of accumulated ET,) application treatments with a range of water deficits from moderate to minimal (40% to 120% of ETc applied); and 3) a series of three treatments that had rapidly developing water deficits applied by terminating irrigation at 7, 5, and 2 weeks before harvest after being grown under low-stress conditions. Pure live seed (PLS) yield was optimized by different treatments within each of the three application regimes. Maximum yields were achieved with short-term (2-week) rapidly developing water deficits near harvest, moderate deficit irrigation with 60% to 80% of ETc applied after 30 mm of ETc, or with a low water deficit, high-frequency application. Seed germination percentage decreased as the amount of applied water increased. This effect was more pronounced in the later-developing umbel orders. However, seed quality measured as seedling root length was improved with increasing water application.