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Thomas L. Thompson and Thomas A. Doerge

Two field experiments were conducted with subsurface trickle-irrigated romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. cv. Parris Island Cos) during the 1990–92 winter growing seasons in southern Arizona. The objectives were to determine 1) yield and quality response to varying combinations of soil water tension (SWT) and N fertilizer, 2) seasonal patterns of N uptake, and 3) unutilized fertilizer N. During 1990–91, N rates were 35, 120, and 205 kg·ha–1. During 1991–92, the experiment was factorial with N levels from 50 to 300 kg·ha–1 and target SWT levels of 7.0 and 4.0 kPa. Unutilized fertilizer N was the difference between fertilized and nonfertilized plots in total N inputs not harvested in the crop. When excessive irrigation was not applied (SWT between 6.5 and 7.4 kPa), 95% of the maximum crop yield and yield quality (head length and fresh mass) response occurred at N rates of 156 to 193 kg·ha–1, with unutilized fertilizer N <60 kg·ha–1. Excessive irrigation (4.6 kPa) resulted in lower yields and yield quality and higher unutilized fertilizer N. Romaine accumulated >74% of its total N uptake in the 38 days before harvest. Unutilized fertilizer N increased sharply when adequate N and water rates were exceeded. These results suggest that a target SWT of no wetter than 6.5 kPa is appropriate for subsurface trickle-irrigated romaine lettuce.

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Thomas L. Thompson and Thomas A. Doerge

Three field experiments using subsurface trickle irrigation with various rates of target soil water tension (SWT) and N rates were conducted in southern Arizona during 1990–93. The experiments were conducted with collard (Brassica oleracea L. Acephela Group cv. Vates), mustard [Brassica juncea (L.) Czerniak cv. Southern Giant], and spinach (Spinacea oleracea L. cv. Indian Summer). The interactive effects of water and N treatments on crop yield, N uptake, and unutilized fertilizer N were studied. In general, excessive irrigation (SWT <5.6 kPa) resulted in lower yield and N uptake and higher unutilized fertilizer N. Optimum SWTs were 9 kPa for collard, 8 kPa for spinach, and 6 to 10 kPa for mustard.

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Aki Kubota, Thomas L. Thompson, Thomas A. Doerge and Ronald E. Godin

This study was conducted to evaluate the accuracy of sap analysis using a portable nitrate ion meter for cauliflower (Brassica oleracea L. Botrytis Group, cv. Candid Charm) petiole nitrate determination. The relationship between NO3-N concentration in fresh petiole sap and in dried petiole tissue was studied for cauliflower grown in southern Arizona during the 1993–94 and 1994–95 growing seasons. Experiments were factorial combinations of three water rates and four N rates, both ranging from deficient to excessive. Petioles were collected throughout each season and were split for analysis of sap NO3-N and dried petiole NO3-N. Linear correlations between the two methods were similar in both seasons, with no consistent effect due to water application rate or crop maturity. Therefore, a single regression equation was derived: petiole sap NO3-N (mg·liter–1) = 0.047 × dry petiole NO3-N (mg·kg–1) + 218 (r2 = 0.772). This equation can be used to relate sap test measurements to existing guidelines for NO3-N concentrations in cauliflower petioles. These results suggest that the quick sap test, using the portable nitrate ion meter, is a valuable technique for monitoring N status of cauliflower.

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Tom L. Weinert, Thomas L. Thompson, Scott A. White and Michael A. Maurer

Microsprinkler irrigation may result in increased efficiency of N and water application to citrus. However, best management practices (BMPs) have not yet been developed for microsprinkler use, particularly on newly established citrus. Experiments were conducted during 1997-98 in central Arizona to evaluate the effects of N rate and fertigation frequency on `Newhall' navel oranges (Citrus sinensis) planted in Mar. 1997. Two experiments were conducted, each with factorial combinations of N rate (0 to 204 g/tree/year) and fertigation frequency (weekly to three times per year). In one experiment, nonlabeled N fertilizer was used, and in the other 15N-labeled fertilizer was used. Trunk diameter, leaf N, and 15N partitioning in the trees were monitored. During 1997, neither trunk diameter nor leaf N were affected by N rate or fertigation frequency. No more than 6% of N applied was found in the trees. During 1998, leaf N in fertilized plots was significantly higher than in nonfertilized plots, but leaf N in all trees remained above the critical N concentration of 25 mg·g-1. During 1998, no more than 25% of the fertilizer N applied was taken up by the trees. Results suggest that N applications are not needed during the first growing season after planting for microsprinkler-irrigated citrus in Arizona. Only low rates of N (≤68 g/tree/yr) may be needed during the second growing season to maintain adequate tree N reserves.