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Sensitivity of root pruned ‘Conference’ pear to water deficit in a temperate climate

Janssens, Pieter, Deckers, Tom, Elsen, Frank, Elsen, Annemie, Schoofs, Hilde, Verjans, Wim, Vandendriessche, Hilde
Agricultural water management 2011 v.99 no.1 pp. 58-66
Pyrus communis, fruit yield, irrigation scheduling, orchards, pears, rooting, shoots, temperate zones, trees
The present study examines the need for irrigation in pear trees (Pyrus Communis, cv. ‘Conference’) under low evaporative demand conditions, like in Belgium, in order to maintain a consistent fruit yield and high fruit size. To determine the sensitivity of the pear yield under low evaporative demand conditions three different orchards were monitored. The study shows that a Ψₛₒᵢₗ of −60kPa during shoot growth has no effect on fruit yield but lower Ψₛₒᵢₗ values induced a decline in both fruit size and total yield. Just as for arid environments a Ψₛₜₑₘ of −1.5MPa is related to negative yield responses. In dry conditions lower Ψₛₒᵢₗ and Ψₛₜₑₘ values were observed in root pruned trees compared to not root pruned trees in the same irrigation treatment, however without yield decline. In one orchard a biannual bearing tendency was observed after root pruning. Furthermore intensive Ψₛₒᵢₗ measurements show a high variation in Ψₛₒᵢₗ between orchards, and within an orchard. This underlines the need for irrigation management on a parcel level and the need for new irrigation scheduling techniques which take the spatial variation in the orchard into account.