To determine if water-stressed trees need more time and heat to mature their fruits, we compared chronological and thermal time from bloom to harvest among control fully-irrigated ‘Algerie’ loquat trees and trees suffering prior-to-bloom deficit irrigation (DI). Heat requirement calculation was performed using the double sine method with a lower threshold temperature of 3 °C. The results show that the greater the blooming advancement achieved by DI, the longer the period to mature the fruits. Such a pattern indicates that the longer duration for bloom-harvest period under DI is due to a displacement of the reproductive phenology to cooler dates. However, some effects of DI on heat requirements for ripening persist, indicating a slower fruit development in some, but not all, DI treatments. The differences in fruit development rate between fully-irrigated and water-stressed trees were established during the phase of rapid fruit growth. The comparison of water stress effects on sink (flower size and seed number) and source (leaf number and size, gas exchange and mineral and carbohydrate nutrition) of DI treatments seems to indicate that the amount of stored reserves in the leaves to sustain early fruit development is the most plausible reason behind the increase in thermal time between bloom and harvest in water-stressed loquats.
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