Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Water Management and Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #336650

Title: Influence of irrigation scheduling using thermometry on peach tree water status and yield under different irrigation systems

item Zhang, Huihui
item Wang, Dong
item Gartung, Jimmie

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/24/2017
Publication Date: 2/9/2017
Citation: Zhang, H., Wang, D., Gartung, J.L. 2017. Influence of irrigation scheduling using thermometry on peach tree water status and yield under different irrigation systems. Agronomy Journal. 7(1):12. doi: 10.3390/agronomy7010012.

Interpretive Summary: Our previous research has demonstrated the potential saving of irrigation water by managing deficit irrigation of early season peach trees using infrared canopy temperature in San Joaquin Valley, California. In this study, we continuously used infrared temperature sensors to monitor tree water stress during the postharvest seasons in years 2012-2014 and used the information to control irrigation for peach trees under furrow, surface drip and micro-spray irrigation systems. The postharvest deficit irrigation control was successful in maintaining water stress level. The yield was not significantly affected, although peach fruits with more deep sutures and dimples were found from trees under long-term deficit irrigation. The field experiment demonstrated that deficit irrigation controlled by infrared sensors could be a practical tool for growers to manage limited irrigation supply effectively.

Technical Abstract: Remotely-sensed canopy temperature from infrared thermometer (IRT) sensors has long been shown to be effective for detecting plant water stress. To help alleviate water shortage, a field study was conducted at the USDA-ARS San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences Center in Parlier, California USA to develop and validate algorithms for determining levels of water stress and scheduling postharvest deficit irrigation for peach trees using canopy temperature. The experimental site consisted of a 1.6 ha early maturing peach tree orchard. A total of 18 IRT sensors were used to control six irrigation treatments including furrow, micro-spray, and surface drip irrigation systems with and without postharvest deficit irrigation. During the postharvest period in the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 growing seasons, midday stem water potentials (') for well irrigated trees were maintained at a range of -0.5 to -1.2 MPa while ' of deficit irrigated trees dropped to lower values. Soil water content in deficit surface drip irrigation treatment was higher compared to deficit furrow and micro-spray irrigation treatments in 2012. The number of fruits and fruit weight from peach trees under postharvest deficit irrigation treatment were less than those well-watered trees; however, no statistically significant (at the p<0.05 level) reduction in fruit size or quality was found for trees irrigated by surface drip and micro-spray irrigation systems. Beside doubles, we found increased number of fruits with deep sutures and dimples which may be a long-term impact of deficit irrigation on this peach tree variety. Overall, deployment of IRT sensors provided real- time measurement of canopy water status and the information is valuable for making irrigation management decisions.