Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/4/2003
Publication Date: 10/1/2003
Citation: BRYLA, D.R., TROUT, T.J., AYARS, J.E., JOHNSON, S. 2003. GROWTH AND EARLY PRODUCTION OF YOUNG PEACH TREES IRRIGATED BY FURROW, MICROSPRINKLER, SURFACE DRIP, OR SUBSURFACE DRIP.. HORTSCIENCE. 2003. Vol. 38 (6) pp 1112-1116. Interpretive Summary: Irrigating young peach trees during the first few years of orchard establishment is a critical practice in most commercial growing regions of the United States. Ideally, enough water is applied to replace any water lost by crop evapotranspiration and to prevent any limitation to growth. Inadequate irrigation reduces canopy development and lengthens the time to reach full production, while over-irrigation limits root development and can lead to groundwater contamination by leaching of soil nitrates and pesticides. A 3-year study was conducted in central California to compare the effects of various irrigation systems on vegetative growth and early production of newly planted peach trees. Results indicate that drip and subsurface drip irrigation reduced evaporation and improved growth and production of the young trees over other irrigation methods commonly used, including furrow and microsprinkler systems. In particular, trees irrigated with either one surface drip lateral (placed near the tree trunks along the row) or two subsurface drip laterals (buried on each side of the row at a distance of 1.1 m from the tree trunks) performed best. The present study will be carried out for at least four more years to determine the effects of these irrigation methods on productivity of mature trees.
Technical Abstract: A 3-year study was conducted in central California to compare the effects of furrow, microsprinkler, surface drip, and subsurface drip irrigation on vegetative growth and early production of newly planted 'Crimson Lady' peach (Prunus persica (L.) Batsch) trees. Furrow treatments were irrigated every 7, 14, or 21 days, microsprinkler treatments were irrigated every 2-3, 7, or 14 days, and drip treatments were irrigated every time accumulated crop evapotranspiration reached 2.5 mm with either one lateral of drip tubing placed on the soil surface (surface drip) per row or with one, two, or three buried laterals (subsurface drip) per row. When the same amount of water was applied across treatments each growing season, by the third season, surface and subsurface drip irrigation significantly increased trunk cross-sectional area and/or pruning weight, crop load, fruit size and yield compared to other irrigation methods. Growing trees at different irrigation levels revealed that trees irrigated by drip required half the amount of water to attain the same growth and yield as trees irrigated by microsprinklers, while trees irrigated by furrow had intermediate water requirements. Among drip treatments, tree size and yield was similar whether trees were irrigated with one surface drip lateral (placed along the tree row) or with two or three subsurface drip laterals (buried on each side of the row), but significantly smaller when only one subsurface drip lateral (buried between rows) was used. Within furrow and microsprinkler treatments, irrigation frequency had little effect on growth and yield with the exception that furrow irrigation every 3 weeks produced smaller trees than furrow irrigation every 1 or 2 weeks.