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  • Author or Editor: J. Martin Steyn x
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Pot experiments were conducted to investigate the effects of irrigation frequency and withholding irrigation during the week before harvesting on rose-scented geranium herbage yield and essential oil yield and composition. A factorial experiment with three irrigation frequencies (twice a day, once a day, and every second day) and two growth media (silica sand and sandy clay soil) were conducted in a tunnel. One week before harvest, irrigation was withheld for half of the pots in each treatment combination. In a glasshouse, sandy clay soil was used as growing medium, and five irrigation frequencies (everyday, everyday with 1-week irrigation withholding period, every second day, every third day, and every fourth day irrigation to pot capacity) were applied as treatments. Results showed that essential oil content (percent oil on fresh herbage weight basis) increased as the irrigation frequency decreased. Both herbage yield and essential oil yield positively responded to frequent irrigation. Thus, higher herbage and essential oil yields were obtained from the highest irrigation frequency. A 1-week stress period significantly increased total essential oil yield as well as oil content per fresh herbage weight. The results highlighted that conditions of high soil water availability followed by brief water stress just before harvesting would maximize rose-scented geranium essential oil yield. Citronellol and citronellyl formate tended to increase with an increase in the stress level, but the reverse was true for geraniol and geranyl formate. Other major essential oil components were unaffected by water stress.

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