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Yield and olive oil characteristics of a low-density orchard (cv. Cordovil) subjected to different irrigation regimes
- Ramos, Alice F., Santos, Francisco L.
- Agricultural water management 2010 v.97 no.2 pp. 363-373
- crop production, olives, Olea europaea, irrigated farming, orchards, plant density, irrigation systems, deficit irrigation, irrigation scheduling, process monitoring, rain, water stress, plant development, water use efficiency, olive oil, yields, product quality, chemical composition, sensory properties, Portugal
- The impact of different irrigation scheduling regimes on the quantity and quality of olive oil from a low-density olive grove in southern Portugal was assessed during the irrigation seasons of 2006 and 2007. Olive trees were subjected to one of the following treatments: A—full irrigation; B—sustained deficit irrigation (SDI) with 60% of ETc water applied with irrigation; C—regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) with irrigation water applied at three critical phases: before flowering, at the beginning of pit hardening and before crop harvesting and D—rain-fed treatment. Olive oil yield was significantly higher than rain-fed conditions in 2006, an “on year” of significant rainfall during summer. No significant yield differences were observed in the following “off year”. Among the irrigated treatments, olive oil production of treatment B was 32.5% and 40.1% higher in 2006 and 2007, respectively than the fully irrigated treatment A, despite receiving 49% less irrigation water. Such strategy could allow for an efficient use of water in the region, of very limited available resources, and for modest but important oil yield increase. Nonetheless, on the “on year” of 2006 treatment C used 13.9% of the water applied to treatment B and produced only 23.9% less olive fruits which could also make it illegible as the next possible strategy to use for irrigating olive trees in the region, provided that water is secured latter in the summer, a period of vital importance for oil accumulation and very sensitive to water stress as the poor results of 2007 revealed. The different treatment water regimes did not impact on the chemical characteristics of olive oils that were within the set threshold limits. Similarly, the sensory characteristics of the olive oils as well as bitterness and pungency were negligible for all treatments allowing them to be assessed as of “superior quality”.Overall, irrigation treatments had no influence on the commercial value of produced oils, being all classified as “extra virgin”. Such funding may be of vital importance to farmers willing to further their irrigation area, save water and still retain the protected designation of origin (PDO) seal of quality for their oil.