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Julie M. Tarara and Jorge E. Perez Peña

To determine the effects of timing and extent of regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) on grapevine (Vitis vinifera) canopies, whole-canopy transpiration (TrV) and canopy conductance to water vapor (g c) were calculated from whole-vine gas exchange near key stages of fruit development. The vines were managed under three approaches to RDI: 1) standard industry practice (RDIS), or weekly replacement of 60% to 70% of estimated evapotranspiration (ET) for well-watered grapevines; 2) early additional deficit (RDIE), or one-half of RDIS applied between fruit set and veraison; and 3) late additional deficit (RDIL), or one-half of RDIS applied between veraison and harvest. Compared with RDIS, the additional deficits (RDIE, RDIL) reduced daily cumulative Trv by about 45% (RDIE) and about 48% [RDIL (57% by unit leaf area)]. Diurnal patterns of g c indicated consistent moderate water stress in all RDI regimens (g c ≈50–150 mmol·m−2·s−1). Under RDIE and RDIL, there were transient occurrences of severe water stress, indicated by g c declining below 50 mmol·m−2·s−1. Across the day, vines under RDIE and RDIL had lower g c than RDIS. Under all deficit regimens, TrV exhibited opposing hysteretic loops with solar radiation [photosynthetic photon flux (PPF)] and vapor pressure deficit (VPD), with less sensitivity to VPD in RDIE and RDIL. For a given value of VPD, TrV was higher in the morning than in the afternoon. For a given value of PPF, TrV was higher in the afternoon than in the morning. Single-leaf measurements of transpiration overestimated TrV by an average of 45%. Instantaneous water use efficiency (WUE) declined during midday at the pre- and postveraison measurements for all RDI regimens. Whole-canopy daily integrated WUE (WUEd) did not differ among regimens during the additional deficits because daily cumulative values of whole-vine net carbon exchange (NCEV) and TrV changed proportionally: by about 43% to 46% in RDIE relative to RDIS. The case was less clear-cut for RDIL, where NCEv declined by 33% and TrV by 48% relative to RDIS. However, WUEd did not differ significantly between the two. More substantial water deficits than those are currently practiced in the industry through RDI could be used for potential water savings in semiarid climates.