Halving post-harvest peach irrigation has little effect next year

11/21/2012 02:48:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

If you grower early peach varieties in California's San Joaquin Valley, you can significantly cut back on irrigation after harvest without affecting next year's yields.

Those are the results of a study conducted at the Agricultural Research Service's facility in Parlier, Calif.

Scientists James Ayars and Doug Wang irrigated a 4-acre plot of peaches with full ET (evapotranspiration rate) from March through the May harvest, according to a news release.

They then reduced irrigation. The different treatments were 25 percent, 50 percent and 100 percent.

They also compared three types of systems: micro-sprinklers, subsurface drip and furrow irrigation.

They found that when they cut post-harvest irrigation levels to 26 percent, yields suffered.

But cutting irrigation in half had only minimal effects on the following year's quality and yield.

Subsurface drip irrigation tended to have the lowest yields within a given year, but the differences were not statistically significant.

The researchers also found that the trees needed less pruning because the deficit irrigation slowed plant growth.

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