Submitted to: American Society of Horticulture Science Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/2001
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The goal of this project was to develop and evaluate water and nutrient management practices for peach during early stages of development. Little is known about irrigation and fertilization requirements of stone fruit during initial non-bearing years. In 1999, three different irrigation systems - microjet, drip (surface and subsurface), and furrow were installed in a 1.7-ha field prior to planting. Using these systems, we are testing variations in timing and placement of irrigation water, as well as differences in application of total amounts of water and nitrogen fertilizer. For the past two growing seasons, shoot canopy measurements were made periodically to determine the effects of the irrigation and fertilization treatments on tree development. Root system development was also monitored using minirhizotrons. During the first year, trees irrigated by surface drip had 8, 10 and 16% larger canopy volumes than those irrigated using microjets, furrows and subsurface drip, respectively By the second year, however, subsurface drip irrigated trees were the largest with 16- 32% more canopy volume than trees irrigated by any other method. The young trees did not respond to nitrogen fertlizer regardless of method; e.g., trees fertilized with 0 kg N ha-1 were the same size as trees irrigated with 90 kg N ha-1. Belowground, surface and subsurface irrigation resulted in more restriction of root system volume (roots were concentrated near the drip lines), while trees irrigated with microjets had the widest root distribution. Findings from this study will help identify practices that maximize the rate of tree development while minimizing water and nutrient costs for growing peach.