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Interactive responses to water deficits and crop load in olive (Olea europaea L., cv. Morisca). II: Water use, fruit and oil yield

Martín-Vertedor, Ana I., Rodríguez, Juan M. Pérez, Losada, Henar Prieto, Castiel, Elías Fereres
Agricultural water management 2011 v.98 no.6 pp. 950-958
Food and Agriculture Organization, Olea europaea, canopy, crop coefficient, cultivars, evapotranspiration, fruits, irrigation, olives, transpiration, trees, water requirement, water supply, Spain
To understand the relations between water use and yield in response to crop load, two experiments were conducted in olive (cv. Morisca), during six consecutive years (2002–2007) in an experimental orchard located in Badajoz, Southwest Spain. Experiment 1, assessed the responses during the early years of the orchard (2002–2004) using four irrigation treatments that applied fractions of the estimated crop evapotranspiration (ETc) (125%, 100%, 75% and 0%) and three crop load levels (100%, 50% and 0% of fruit removal, termed Off, Medium and On treatments). Experiment 2 assessed the response of more mature trees (2005–2007) to three irrigation treatments (115%, 100%, and 60% of ETc) and the natural crop load which were Off, On, and Medium in 2005, 2006 and 2007, respectively. Yield was reduced by water deficits and so did the estimated tree transpiration which was linearly related to yield (y=1.2302x−21.15, R²=0.8864), showing the high sensitivity of cultivar Morisca to water deficits. The relations between fruit number and fruit weight showed that high crop loads had lower fruit weights and oil yield, a decrease that was more pronounced as water deficits increased. The yield response to water supply in the control and excess treatments, and the observations on the water relations of these two treatments suggest that the calculations made using the FAO method (Doorenbos and Pruit, 1974) with the crop coefficient proposed by Pastor et al. (1998) and the reduction coefficient (Fereres et al., 1982) to apply 100% of ETc in the control treatment, underestimated the ETc of the orchard. The results indicate that, although the absence of fruits lead to reduced water use as compared to situations of medium and high crop loads, canopy size was much more determinant of orchard water requirements than crop load.