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  • Author or Editor: Mahdi S. Abdal x
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The Climate of Kuwait is characterized by hot and dry summers with frequent sandstorms, and mild winters with low rainfall. Soils are generally sandy in texture. Water supplies are particularly limited and all ground water resources are extremely brackish with an average total dissolved solids (TDS) content of 4500 mg/l. Trickle system is the major method used for irrigation. Lack of water is the main limiting factor in Kuwait. High temperature is another factor causing increased evaporation. Such evaporation brings soluble salt to the soil surface and forms saline soils. Salinity is further elevated by the use of brackish water in irrigation. There have been many ways to alleviate this problem, but the most important approach practiced has been to carefully select plant species that are saline and heat tolerant. Tests have been carried out to establish the tolerance of numerous species, under conditions of brackish (3500-4500 mg/l) water irrigation and high temperatures. Lists of some of the plant species found to be most tolerant will be presented. Some of these plant species are already native to Kuwait and are adapted to local conditions, while others need to be acclimatized.

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Tomatoes are the leading vegetable crop in Kuwait and are produced in both open field agriculture (OFA) and protected environment agriculture (PEA). Prior to the invasion by Iraq there were 1018 ha of tomatoes in OFA and 76 ha in PEA. We project that nearly 90% of the pre-invasion PEA area and more than 50% of the OFA area will be restored to production in the 1994 season.

Most of the PEA structures currently in production are simple structures of bent pipe frames with plastic film covers. Some multi-span, rigid-cover structures have been restored. Fan and pad cooling systems are used although many of the structures are uncooled and produce only a winter crop.

PEA production uses desalinated sea water (DW) for irrigation and a mixture of DW and brackish water (BW) for cooling. OFA uses a mixture of DW and BW for irrigation, usually applied with drip systems.

Pest problems include whitefly, spider mite, aphid, root knot nematode and a number of diseases including tomato yellow leaf curl.

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The climate of Kuwait can be characterized as hot (maximumin excess of 45°C), and dry during the summers (May to October), with high evaporation (16 mm/d). Night-time temperatures also remain relatively high during these summer months. Rainfall over the course of the year is very low, usually being limited to less than 100 mm, which falls primarily during the winter months. Likewise, while the country's sand and dust storms occur primarily during the summer months, there may be occasional flurries at almost any time during the year, causing major additional problems with unprotected production of sensitive food crops, like strawberries. Water is also one of the country's most limiting resources, with all ground-water being highly brackish.

Strawberry production, on a commercial basis is a relatively new development in Kuwait. Pre-war production (under protected and unprotected environments) had increased to over 125 tons, on approximately 5 ha of land, providing about 75% of the then existing demand. Strawberry growers set their plants in November and harvest fruit in May. If production could be maintained on a year round basis, at high quality levels, demand would presumably also be significantly higher. While yields had increased to about 25 tons per hectare, production problems include pests (including aphids), cultural practices and adapted cultivars. Current and planned work will be discussed.

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Eggplant is an important vegetable crop in Kuwait. Eggplant is considered to have moderately sensitive salt-tolerance, though no quantitative information is available on its salt sensitivity. Selecting salt-tolerant genotypes in eggplant is an ongoing project at Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research. Towards the goal of selecting salt-tolerant genotypes in eggplant a completely randomized experiment using 10 cultivars, replicated 3 times were tested against 2 levels of high salinity stress (EC MS.cm-1 at 25°C, 15.0 and 18.0) along with the control (EC MS.cm-1 at 25°C, 3.0). The experiment was conducted on 15 days old seedlings inside a greenhouse. Data on shoot length and visual observations on leaf necrosis, leaf collapse and root color was also recorded. There was a clear degree of variability as well as significant differences in growth and final survival, between cultivars at 2 levels of salinity stress. Those genotypes that showed significant higher growth rates and survival without any signs on leaf necrosis and root collapse formed the basis salt-tolerant genotypes.

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