To compare the effects of water deficits and restricted root volume, 1- and 2-year-old peach trees (Prunus persica L.) with roots divided among four 2.5-Iiter pots were irrigated daily with 30% (deficit irrigation) or 100% (non-deficit) replacement of water used the day before. The water was applied to one, two, or all four pots during the period of rapid terminal growth. After 7 weeks, all trees received 100% replacement of water used the previous day. After terminal growth ended, the root : shoot ratio of the 2-year-old trees was adjusted by 1) tripling available soil volume, 2) removing two-thirds of lateral branches, 3) both 1 and 2, 4) treatment 3 defoliated, or 5) left unchanged. Deficit irrigation reduced midday leaf water potential, leaf conductance, and terminal growth equally, regardless of irrigated soil volume, whereas in non-deficit irrigated trees these factors were proportional to the irrigated soil volume. After deficit irrigation ended, terminal growth resumed at rates above those of the trees with non-deficit irrigation applied to all four pots and proportional to the severity of growth reduction during deficit irrigation. Pruning and defoliation increased leaf conductance within 3 days. Increased soil volume increased leaf conductance after 4 weeks. Deficit irrigation nearly eliminated flowering for the following year. Tripling the soil volume overcame the effect of deficit irrigation on flowering, but pruning did not. Defoliation inhibited flowering. The effect of restricted irrigated soil volume was similar to that of deficit irrigation. Increasing root : shoot ratios by adjusting the soil volume or by pruning the shoot always increased leaf conductance.
Three levels of water deficit generated by 3 levels of irrigation applied at times of rapid vegetative growth and/or slow fruit growth were compared to determine their suitability for restricting vegetative growth on 5-year-old ‘Bartlett’ pear (Prunus communis L.) trees trained to a Tatura Trellis. For the period of Regulated Deficit Irrigation (RDI), the amount of water applied replaced 92%, 47%, and 23% of the evaporation calculated over the planting square (Eps). In the subsequent period of rapid fruit growth until harvest, all trees were irrigated with 150% Eps to ensure that the wetting pattern from the trickle system wetted the entire root zone. Shoot and frame growth declined in proportion to the water deficit. Fruit tended to grow more slowly on the 23% than 46% treatment during RDI, but growth on the 46% and 92% Eps treatments was similar. In the subsequent period of full irrigation, fruit growth initially was significantly faster on the RDI treatments, and the same trend was maintained for most of the remainder of fruit growth. The net result was that yield was marginally increased RDI treatments. In the subsequent season, flowering was increased on trees recieving RDI in the previous season.
Individual and interactive effects of restricted root volume (RRV) and regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) on vegetative growth and mineral nutrition of peach trees [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch (Peach Group) `Golden Queen'] were studied over 3 years (1992-95). Trees were grown in lysimeters of five different volumes (0.025, 0.06, 0.15, 0.4, and 1.0 m3) with either full or deficit (RDI) irrigation. Increasing soil volume increased vegetative growth as measured by trunk cross-sectional area (TCA) (linear and quadratic, P < 0.011) and tree weight (linear, P < 0.001) with the final TCA ranging from 29.0 to 51.0 cm2 and tree weight ranging from 7.2 to 12.1 kg for the smallest to largest volumes. Root density measured at the completion of the experiment decreased with increasing soil volume (linear and quadratic, P < 0.001) with root length density declining from 24.0 to 2.0 cm·cm-3. RDI reduced vegetative growth by up to 70% as measured by weight of summer prunings. Root restriction was effective in controlling vegetative vigor and is a viable alternative for control of vegetative growth. Mineral nutrition did not limit tree growth.
Individual and interactive effects of restricted root volume (RRV) and regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) on productivity and water use of peach trees [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch `Golden Queen'] were studied over 3 years (1992-95). Trees were grown in lysimeters of five different soil volumes (0.025, 0.06, 0.15, 0.4, and 1.0 m3) with either full or deficit (RDI) irrigation. In Years 3 and 4, fruit size was reduced by up to 30% on trees in the two smallest volumes. Tree water use was positively related to increasing soil volume (linear, P < 0.001; quadratic, P < 0.011) in all years ranging from 1.8 to 4.4 L·mm-1 Epan in the post-RDI period of Year 2. Water use of deficit-irrigated trees was less than fully irrigated trees and there was an interaction between soil volume and irrigation treatment during RDI. Water relations did not limit growth or productivity. Tree water use was reduced under root restriction as a consequence of canopy demand rather than leaf function. Results suggest that a combination of restricted root volume and development of water stress achieve the RDI response in the Goulburn Valley, Australia.
An experiment designed to study the effects of different root volumes was installed in Fall 1991. `Golden Queen' peach trees [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch.] were planted into different isolated soil volumes (0.025, 0.06, 0.15, 0.4, and 1.0 m3), which were essentially individual drainage lysimeters. Trunk cross-sectional area (TCA) increased from 5.76 to 14.23 cm2 for the smallest and largest volumes, respectively, while leaf area was 4.56 and 21.32 m2 for the respective treatments. Leaf size was not affected by soil volume. Soil volume was positively related to the number of lateral shoots produced, lateral shoot density, and internode length. Total flower bud number and flower bud density were inversely related to soil volume. Fruit set was similar among treatments despite an almost 4-fold difference in tree size. Tree water use (liters·mm-1 pan evaporation) increased with soil volume; however, when adjusted for tree size (tree water use per TCA), there were no consistent differences between treatments for tree water use over the season. These results suggest that trees planted in the smaller soil volumes were more efficient reproductively per unit of tree size and would be easier to manage in an ultra-high-density planting.
Withholding irrigation (WI), followed by regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) at 2 levels, were compared with conventionally scheduled irrigation during rapid vegetative growth on ‘Bartlett’ pear (Pyrus communis L.) trees. All trees were irrigated at an increased common level during subsequent rapid fruit growth, by which time most vegetative growth had ceased. Irrigation effects were studied at 3 tree spacings (4 × 1 m, 4 × 0.75 m, and 4 × 0.5 m). Shoot and frame growth was related directly to early irrigation treatment before summer pruning. However, significant shoot growth that was reinitiated following summer pruning during one year increased on RDI treatments. The improved tree water status gained by changing from RDI to full irrigation in both years and from WI to RDI in the first year stimulated the growth rate of the total crop on the RDI treatments. Gross yield was increased significantly by WI and RDI in both years. Blossom density also was increased. Preliminary WI increased the control of vegetative growth by RDI when the soil was wet at flowering.
After initially withholding irrigation (WI) to dry out the root zone of pear trees, regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) applied to replace 23% and 46% of evaporation over the planting square (Eps) was compared with 69% and 92% Eps applied during the WI and RDI periods, respectively (full irrigation). Irrigation was increased to 120% Eps on all treatments after rapid fruit growth commenced. Leaf water potential (ψ1) measured at dawn and midday became less negative during RDI than during WI but in both periods was more negative than the control (69%/92% Eps). On the other hand, ψ1 of treatments receiving WI and RDI became less negative than the control when all irrigation treatments were increased to 120% Eps. Withholding irrigation followed by RDI reduced vegetative growth by 52%. In contrast, however, WI did not inhibit fruit growth, while, during RDI following WI fruit, growth was stimulated. A similar but greater stimulation of fruit growth (consistent with relatively less negative ψ1) was measured on WI/RDI plants when all treatments received 120% Eps. This stimulation of fruit growth increased yields by about 20%. The results indicate fruit osmoregulate to maintain and/or increase growth at the expense of inhibited vegetative growth when WI and or RDI reduce ψ1 in spring to values approaching −0.5 MPa at dawn.
Fruit yield was increased, summer pruning decreased, and water saved when regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) and withholding irrigation (WI) were used over 5 years to manage mature ‘Bartlett’ pear (Pyrus communis L.) trees planted at three levels of within-row spacing (0.5, 0.75, and 1.0 m) and trained to a Tatura trellis. Three levels of irrigation, 23%, 46%, and 92% replacement of evaporation from the planting square (Eps), were compared during the RDI period. Weight of summer prunings was positively and linearly related to level of irrigation in each year, including a relatively wet year. When compared between years, the degree of this response on the dried treatment was positively and significantly related to net evaporation (evaporation – rainfall) recorded during the period of rapid shoot growth. Fruit number also tended to be greater on the 23% and 46% Eps treatments in all years. Cumulative yield over 10 years of cropping did not differ between tree spacing, although fruit size was larger at the 1-m spacing. High yields were obtained at all levels of tree spacing. Yield and tree growth responded most to RDI for the 0.5-m-spaced trees.