J.J. Hueso, A. Stellfeldt, J. Cuevas
Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica Lindl.) is a crop model for the successful application of regulated deficit irrigation (RDI). This subtropical fruit tree blooms in autumn, develops its fruit during winter and ripens them early in the spring. This unusual phenology makes loquat the first spring crop that reaches the markets. Improving loquat earliness is therefore of paramount importance for increasing growers’ revenue. This improvement can be achieved by preflowering RDI. In this sense, partial restriction of watering along the whole summer was proven capable of advancing bloom and harvest dates in ‘Algerie’ loquat, without detrimental effects on fruit quality and productivity. With the aim of maximizing the advancement in harvesting and therefore making ‘Algerie’ loquat even more profitable, we have determined the optimal dates for RDI, the optimal levels of water stress during that period and the optimal duration of water withholding in RDI period in SE Spain. The results show that withholding irrigation during 7-9 weeks, starting at the beginning of June, is the most successful irrigation strategy. Complete suppression of irrigation during this period resulted in a water stress integral of around 47 MPa days. This watering strategy advanced bloom up to four weeks, and harvesting up to almost three weeks. Harvest advancement allows a higher percentage of yields to be picked before April 15th when the best prices are obtained, which in turn improves growers’ profits greatly.
Hueso, J.J., Stellfeldt, A. and Cuevas, J. (2014). REGULATED DEFICIT IRRIGATION MAKES LOQUAT MORE PROFITABLE. Acta Hortic. 1038, 625-632
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2014.1038.79
flowering, fruit earliness, harvest date, water stress, incomes

Acta Horticulturae