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Open AccessArticle

Water-Related Variables for Predicting Yield of Apple under Deficit Irrigation

Department of Agricultural, Food and Forest Sciences, University of Palermo, Palermo 90128, Italy
Horticulturae 2019, 5(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae5010008
Received: 14 December 2018 / Revised: 1 January 2019 / Accepted: 15 January 2019 / Published: 16 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Abiotic Stress Effects on Performance of Horticultural Crops)
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Abstract

Predicting apple yield in relation to tree water use is important for irrigation planning and evaluation. The aim of the present study was to identify measurable variables related to tree water use that could predict final fruit yield of apple trees under different strategies of deficit irrigation. Adult ‘Gala’ and ‘Fuji’ apple trees were exposed to conventional irrigation (CI), delivering 100% of crop evapotranspiration; partial root zone drying (PRD), delivering 50% of CI water only on one alternated side of the root-zone; and continuous deficit irrigation (CDI), delivering 50% of CI water on both sides of the root-zone. Integrals of soil (SWDint) and leaf (LWSDint) water deficit along with growth and stomatal conductance (Gsint) were calculated across each season and used to estimate total conductance (GStree) and transpiration (Trtree) per tree, transpiration efficiency on a fruit (GRfruit/Tr) or tree (GRtrunk/Tr) growth basis, and transpiration productivity (Yield/Trtree). ‘Fuji’ trees had higher Yield/Trtree, but had lower GRtrunk/Tr and similar GRfruit/Tr compared to ‘Gala’ trees. In ‘Fuji’, CDI reduced yield, trunk growth, leaf hydration, and gas exchange, while in ‘Gala’, it did not reduce yield and gas exchange. In ‘Fuji’, a linear combination of GRtrunk/Tr, GRfruit/Tr, and Gstree contributed to predicting yield, with GRfruit/Tr explaining nearly 78% of the model variability. In ‘Gala’, a linear combination of LWSDint and Gstree contributed to predicting yield, with Gstree explaining over 79% of the model variability. These results indicate that measuring tree water status or water use may help predict final apple yields only in those cultivars like ‘Gala’ that cannot limit dehydration by closing stomates because of carbon starvation. In more vigorous cultivars like ‘Fuji’, transpiration efficiency based on fruit growth can be a powerful predictor of final yields. View Full-Text
Keywords: leaf water saturation deficit; partial root zone drying; stomatal conductance; transpiration efficiency; transpiration productivity leaf water saturation deficit; partial root zone drying; stomatal conductance; transpiration efficiency; transpiration productivity
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Lo Bianco, R. Water-Related Variables for Predicting Yield of Apple under Deficit Irrigation. Horticulturae 2019, 5, 8.

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