Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Corvallis, Oregon » Forage Seed and Cereal Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #397089

Research Project: Breeding, Genomics, and Integrated Pest Management to Enhance Sustainability of U.S. Hop Production and Competitiveness in Global Markets

Location: Forage Seed and Cereal Research Unit

Title: Evaluating potato evapotranspiration and crop coefficients in the Columbia basin of Washington state

item Gonzalez-Tapia, Francisco - Paco
item PAVEK, MARK - Washington State University
item HOLDEN, ZACHARY - Washington State University
item GARZA, RUDY - Washington State University

Submitted to: Agricultural Water Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/15/2023
Publication Date: 8/1/2023
Citation: Gonzalez Tapia, F., Pavek, M.J., Holden, Z., Garza, R. 2023. Evaluating potato evapotranspiration and crop coefficients in the Columbia basin of Washington state. Agricultural Water Management. Volume 286.

Interpretive Summary: Irrigation is one of the most influential cultural management practices determining yield and quality in potato production. Water consumption estimation programs are at the forefront of irrigation scheduling. These rely on the accuracy of environmental measurements and crop coefficients that account for the crop’s growth characteristics, cultural management, and microclimate. However, the current potato crop coefficient values used in the Columbia Basin of Washington State have not been updated to account for newly released cultivars and changing climate since their inception in the early 1970s. In this study, we evaluated the crop coefficient values, representing three stages of crop development, initial, mid-season, and late-season. We also assessed water consumption trends throughout the season of five potato cultivars popularly grown in the Pacific Northwest. In this study, we revealed that the water consumption of cultivars with larger and more vigorous canopies, including a newly released cultivar, was significantly higher during the mid-season stage relative to cultivars with smaller and less vigorous canopies. Further, the higher water consumption of the larger and more vigorous canopies resulted in significantly higher crop coefficients during the mid-season stage. These findings provide growers with revised crop coefficients for estimating evapotranspiration and insight into water consumption trends of five russet potato cultivars, resulting in more precise irrigation scheduling, less water stress-related issues, and higher water use efficiency.

Technical Abstract: The current potato crop coefficient values have yet to be updated to account for newly released potato cultivars and changing climate since their inception in the 1970s. In irrigation scheduling, crop coefficients, representing three development stages, play a critical role in modeling evapotranspiration. In this study, we developed crop coefficients and evaluated crop evapotranspiration trends of five Pacific Northwest-grown russet cultivars. The field study was conducted during 2018, 2019, and 2020 growing seasons at the Washington State University Irrigated Agricultural Research and Extension Center near Othello, Washington. The potato cultivars included Alturas, Clearwater Russet, Ranger Russet, Russet Burbank, and Umatilla Russet. Crop evapotranspiration was computed using a combination of environmental and soil sensors and the soil water balance method. Crop coefficient values were developed by dividing crop evapotranspiration by reference evapotranspiration based on alfalfa. Soil water content measurements revealed that Alturas and Clearwater Russet’s water consumption was significantly higher than that of Russet Burbank during the last eight weeks before harvest. During the mid-season, crop evapotranspiration calculations of Alturas and Clearwater Russet were nearly identical, averaging 7.22 mm day-1. In contrast, the lowest crop evapotranspiration was observed in Russet Burbank, with 6.89 mm day-1. The average crop coefficient values resulting from evaluating five full-season russet potato cultivars were determined to be 0.40 during the initial stage, 0.95 during the mid-season, and 0.57 during the late-season stage. This study offers valuable information to potato growers in the Columbia Basin, enabling them to make informed decisions by providing updated crop coefficient values for determining evapotranspiration and affording them with insight into the water consumption patterns of five distinct russet potato cultivars.