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Pattern of trunk diameter fluctuations of almond trees in deficit irrigation scheduling during the first seasons

Martín-Palomo, M.J., Corell, M., Girón, I., Andreu, L., Trigo, E., López-Moreno, Y.E., Torrecillas, A., Centeno, A., Pérez-López, D., Moriana, A.
Agricultural water management 2019 v.218 pp. 115-123
almonds, commercial farms, deficit irrigation, filling period, irrigation rates, irrigation scheduling, monitoring, orchards, shrinkage, tree growth, trees, water potential, water stress, Spain
Irrigation needs in mature almond orchards are very high. Although almond trees grow in rainfed conditions, the yield response is very sensitive to irrigation. Continuous monitoring of the water status could be an adequate tool to optimize deficit irrigation. In this sense, trunk diameter fluctuations appeared as a very promising indicator at the beginning of the century, but few data have been published. The aim of this work is to check threshold values of maximum daily shrikage (MDS) and identify possible limitations to their use in commercial orchards. The experiment was performed in a commercial farm in Dos Hermanas (Seville, Spain) during the 2017 season on a 7-years-old orchard (cv Vairo). The irrigation treatments were Control (100% ETc), sustained deficit irrigation (SDI) with a maximum seasonal irrigation of 100 mm and two regulated deficit treatments (RDI). Both RDI treatments (RDI-1 and RDI-2) were scheduled using the signal of maximum daily shrinkage (signal) and the midday stem water potential (SWP). In RDI-1, full irrigation conditions were provided before kernel filling and during postharvest, using the threshold values suggested in the bibliography. During kernel filling, the water stress level was designed to be -1.5 MPa (SWP) and 1.75 (signal). RDI-2 trees were irrigated using the same scheduling as RDI-1, but target water stress values were higher in kernel filling (-2 MPa and 2.75) and with a maximum seasonal amount of water of 100 mm. SWP in Control trees was near the McCutchan and Shackel baseline for most of the season. None of the deficit treatments reached the signal values suggested. Moreover, the signal values were almost equal between treatments, with no water stress effect. The trunk growth rate (TGR) presented clear differences depending on the water status.