- Author: Neil O'Connell
By the beginning of the irrigation season, the entire root zone is usually wetted by winter rainfall. Under low volume irrigation during the irrigation season only fifty percent or less of the root zone is wetted with each irrigation on most soil types. Soils with slow infiltration do not allow enough water to penetrate into the root zone to meet the plant’s water requirement. During an irrigation the water puddles while the soil beneath remains dry. Less than ten percent of the soil in the root zone may be wetted during an irrigation when water infiltration is a problem. Water storage in such a small volume of soil may amount to only two to three days of evapotranspiration. The tree may be under stress even though the amount of applied water exceeds the amount lost by evapotranspiration (ET). An infiltration problem is often associated with irrigation water low in salt and/or soils with inherently slow infiltration rates. Soil particles contain sites occupied by electrically charged ions such as calcium, sodium, and magnesium. In an optimum situation, a sufficiently high percentage of these sites are occupied by calcium which results in an aggregating or clumping effect among soil particles allowing water to penetrate. When the percentage of sites occupied by calcium is low and sodium predominates there is a repelling or dispersion of particles and water penetration is reduced. With increasing numbers of the exchange sites occupied by sodium ions the soil particles swell and repel each other creating a dispersion or loss of aggregation resulting in single particles. As this happens the porosity (or pore space) is reduced and the ability of water to enter is reduced. On the other hand as the exchange sites become more occupied by calcium the particles move closer together and aggregate or clump resulting in an increase in pore space. Therefore, soils that have a high percentage of the exchange sites occupied by sodium ions are dispersed and deflocculated and resist the entry of water while those with a high percentage of calcium ions are flocculated and favor water infiltration. With the use of low salt water over time, such as snow melt water, calcium may be removed from the soil particles exchange sites and these sites may then become occupied by another ion such as sodium.
Research addressing this problem of low infiltration was conducted in citrus under low volume irrigation by University of California researchers Peacock, Pehrson and Wildman. The soils type, at the experimental site of mature navel oranges, was a San Joaquin sandy loam characterized by a low infiltration rate. Canal water with a low salt content was used for irrigation. The trees were irrigated with a drip system every week day. Treatments began in June when soils typically begin to exhibit a reduced infiltration rate and were continued until mid-August but measurements continued until September. Simple devices for measuring the infiltration rate, called infiltrometers, were made from 12 inch PVC pipe and installed in the orchard. Chemical treatments and water were applied and rates of water infiltration were measured within these infiltrometers. Gypsum was applied weekly to the soil surface to maintain a slight excess continually on the soil surface and watered in resulting in gypsum application with each irrigation. Calcium nitrate and CAN-17 were each injected into the irrigation water. Calcium nitrate was introduced into the irrigation water at the rate of ten pounds per acre per irrigation. Calcium nitrate was applied daily, biweekly and in a single application. CAN -17 was applied daily, biweekly and in a single application. With these injections into the irrigation water, calcium was being introduced into the water at the rate of 3 milliequivalents per liter. Adding calcium continuously to irrigation water doubled infiltration rates over that of untreated low-salt water. It took 2-3 weeks before a treatment difference could be measured. However, the occasional additions of calcium nitrate or CAN-17 were not effective in maintaining infiltration rates. There were concerns that nitrogen application from these treatments could result in the nitrogen level in the tree being in excess of the tree’s nutritional requirements. Following this research equipment was made available on a commercial basis for regulated injection of materials into low volume irrigation systems.
- Author: Toni Siebert, Ottillia Bier, David Karp, Georgios Vidalakis and Tracy Kahn
In the last two decades, many distinctive citrus selections have become available at retail markets in the US. These include cultivars such as 'Cara Cara' navel orange, 'Cocktail' pummelo-mandarin hybrid, 'Variegated Pink' lemon, 'Seedless Kishu' mandarin and 'Buddha's Hand' citron. Among specialty ctirus growers, there is intense interesst in acquiring nev varieties with novel or unusual chracteristics of appearance, coloration, flavor, size and functional properties.
The newly released pummelo hybrid 'Valentine', combines the large size and low acidity from its pummelo parent, complex, floral taste from 'Dancy' mandarin and juicy red pulp from 'Ruby hybrid. It matures in mid-February near the Valentine's holiday and when it is cut lengthwise and turned upside down, the flesh of the fruit resembles a vibrant red heart. It is unique in being a grapefruit-like fruit with anthocyanin pigmentation, which is a potential marketing advantage at a time when many anitoxidant-rich fruits, such as pomegranate, bleuberry and blackberry, have seen sales increase because of their percieved health benefits.
Learn more about this new fruit and other citrus in the UC Variety Collection at:
- Author: Larry Schwankl, Freddie Lamm, Dana Porter
Maintenance of Microirrigation Systems
Predicting Clogging Problems
Solutions to Existing Clogging Problems
System evaluation for emission device clogging
Routine Maintenance Tasks
Microirrigation systems include microsprinklers for tree crops, drip emitters for trees, vines, and some row crops, and drip tape for row and field crops. Microirrigation systems apply water to the soil through emitters that are installed along drip lines and contain very small flow passages. Microirrigation systems can apply water and fertilizers more uniformly than other irrigation methods. This uniformity results in potentially higher yields, higher revenue, and reduced irrigation operating costs.
Uniformity, a performance characteristic of irrigation systems, is a measure of the evenness of the applied water throughout the irrigation system. Distribution uniformity (DU), sometimes called emission uniformity (EU), is an index that describes how evenly or uniformly water is applied throughout the field. A uniformity of 100% means the same amount of water was applied everywhere. Unfortunately, all irrigation systems apply water at a uniformity of less than 100%, and thus some parts of a field receive more water than others. Field evaluations have shown that microirrigation systems have the potential for higher uniformity than other irrigation methods. However, clogging reduces the uniformity of applied water in microirrigation systems, thus increasing the relative differences in applied water throughout a field.
The small flow passages in the emitters and microsprinklers make microirrigation systems highly susceptible to clogging. Clogging reduces the uniformity of the applied water and decreases the amount of applied water. Clogging also decreases the amount of salt leaching around the lateral line in saline soils.
The objective of this web site is to provide information to irrigators about the causes of clogging and the methods for preventing or correcting clogging problems in microirrigation systems. Among the topics covered are the sources of clogging, chlorination, preventing chemical precipitation, filtration, flushing, and monitoring microirrigation systems.
This web site is divided into sections to allow the users to more quickly access the information they want. For example, if you already know you have a clogging problem and you want to solve it, go to the section Solutions to Existing Clogging Problems - "I have a problem and I want to solve it".
- Author: Craig Kallsen, Blake Sanden and Mary Lu Arpaia
To maximize profits in the early navel orange market, growers need to have large fruit size and sufficient yellow-orange color and a high enough sugar-acid ratio to meet or exceed the legal minimum harvesting standards. Growers of early-maturing navel oranges in Kern County use different strategies to produce these oranges. Some growers irrigate at full evapotranspiration rates nearly up to harvest with the belief this will maximize fruit size, while others begin deficit irrigating a month or two prior to harvest to maximize development of sugar and color to promote earlier maturity. Little information exists in the literature to assist growers in making decisions related to producing early maturing navels such as Beck,Fukumoto and Thompson Improved. After three years of research, we have elucidated some of the trade offs that relate to irrigation strategies and early navel fruit production.
Three different irrigation treatments, defined as low, mid and high, were developed based on the relative amounts of irrigation water applied to the test plots. Each plot consisted of 10 trees in a central row, bordered by 10 similarly irrigated trees in the two adjacent rows. Each treatment was replicated 5 times. The same irrigation treatment was applied to the same plots for the first two years, while in the third year the low treatment was changed to the high treatment to provide information on how rapidly the trees would recover from stress. The different irrigation treatments were administered by using irrigation emitters with different flow rates and by differentially shutting off water to some treatments as needed to achieve desired stress levels. Between growing seasons, the top three feet of soil profile was refilled with water during the winter and differential irrigation began in early August. Measurable differences in tree shaded stem water potential among treatment usually were noted by early September. In the second year of the experiment (2007), the low and mid-
irrigation treatments applied approximately 38 and 71 percent, respectively on average, of the water of the high treatment. Water potential measurements made mid-day on shaded, interior leaves demonstrated that good separation was achieved among the three treatments. In 2007, for example, shaded stem water potential measurement in early September were about -9, -12, and -18 bars for the high, mid and low irrigation treatments, respectively and at harvest in mid October were -12, 18, -24, respectively. Neutron probe measurements also demonstrated that trees differentially depleted available water stored in the soil as the season progressed (data not shown). In 2007, differences in applied water among the treatments were large. Including the increased quantity of water applied to refill the soil profile in the winter, 3.55, 2.58 and 2.11 acre feet of water on a per acre basis, were applied to the high, mid and low irrigation treatments respectively, from October 30 2006 to harvest, October 15 2007. Rainfall was minimal.
Again, using 2007 as an example, as the level of applied water decreased, soluble solids (i.e. sugars) and titratable acid, were greater at harvest, although the sugar acid ratio was not different (see Table 1). Rows in the experimental orchard were oriented east and west. Fruit on the south side of the tree had higher soluble solids concentration and sugar/acid ratio than fruit on the north side of the tree, regardless of irrigation treatment. Fruit juiciness, either measured as weight of juice to weight of fruit (see Table 1) or volume of juice per weight of fruit (results not shown) were not different among irrigation treatments, suggesting the increase in sugars and acid was the result of osmotic adjustment and not fruit dehydration. We were also interested in seeing if the differential irrigation treatments influenced eating quality of the fruit. To test this idea, we provided fruit from the highest and lowest irrigation treatments of 2007 and 2008 to volunteer panelists at the UC Kearney Ag Center and asked if they could detect any differences between the fruit. In both years the panelists could not detect differences between fruit from the two irrigation treatments, suggesting that the increase in soluble solids in the low irrigation treatment was not sufficient to influence eating quality.
In 2007, yield and grade decreased as the amount of applied water decreased (see Table 2). Fruit in the high and mid irrigation treatments peaked on size 56 per carton and on size 72 per carton in low treatment (data not shown). The decrease in fruit grade at pack-out appeared to be largely due to a more oblong shape. The negative yield, fruit size and grade effects measured in the low and mid treatments in 2007 were probably the cumulative result of deficit irrigation in Years 1 and 2 and not just Year 2 alone. Reduced rates of irrigation did increase the color in the fruit compared to the high irrigation treatment (see Table 3) and this occurred every year.
The deleterious effects on yield, and grade on the trees in the low-irrigation treatments suggested that not much would be gained by continuing this level of stress for a third season in the same plots. In 2008, the low irrigation treatment was replaced by a high irrigation treatment and, at harvest, yield by weight and fruit numbers were not different from the control high-irrigation treatment. This observation demonstrated that the Beck navels rebounded quickly from the low irrigation stress of 2006 and 2007. The mid level irrigation stress of 2006 and 2008 was less severe than that of 2007, and yield and fruit quality was not as adversely affected as in 2007.
This study provides information on some of the trade offs that might be expected among fruit yield, size, grade, sugar and color in relation to reduced irrigation as harvest approaches. Information from this study will be available in greater detail in the near future. How growers respond to this information will depend on their approach to profiting in the early navel market and how much water will be available for irrigation. If reducing water use, while minimizing effects on yield and fruit quality compared to fully irrigated orchards, is the primary goal of the grower, work by Dr. Goldhamer, UC irrigation specialist, demonstrated that regulated deficit irrigation in the mid-May through mid-July time period would be the best strategy.
- Author: Ben Faber
In many ways our pest and disease management of fruit tree crops are exacerbated by our cultural practices. Avocado and citrus offer some very clear demonstrations of how we manage our trees can lead to reduced pesticide use. From the beginning, our selection of rootstock and scion can help lessen pest and disease problems. In both avocado and citrus we have good rootstocks which can handle problems, such as root rot more effectively than seedling rootstocks. So it is imperative that if you know that drainage will be a problem, starting off with the right, healthy rootstock helps. Also scion selection can have a major impact, as well. For example, ‘Lamb’ avocado is much less prone to persea mite than is ‘Hass’. This pest can significantly impact a spray program and planting ‘Lamb’ could mean virtually no sprays for this pest. There are similar examples in citrus where one variety is more prone to a pest or disease than another.
Irrigation is probably the most important cultural factor in managing tree disease. Over, under and improperly timed irrigations are the conditions necessary for many root diseases. The Phytophthora spp. fungi are looking for distressed root systems brought on by waterlogging and other stressful situations. Other conditions, such as wetted trunks can also bring on some trunk diseases, like gummosis in citrus and crown rot in avocado. Simply preventing irrigation water on the trunks can limit these diseases. Other diseases, such as black streak, stem blight and bacterial canker in avocado are bought on by soil moisture stress.
Nutrients, especially nitrogen management, has been long known to affect levels of insects, such as scale, mealy bug and aphid. Encouraging lush growth helps sustain these insects, so reducing this growth tends to lower their numbers. Managing when canopy growth occurs can affect pest severity. Avocado thrips build their populations in the spring and moves easily from leaf to fruit causing significant scarring. By promoting leaf growth at flowering time with a nitrogen application, keeps the insect on the leaves and reduces fruit scarring. This also promotes growth that replaces leaves that have been damaged by persea mite. Likewise the incidence of citrus leaf miner damage can be reduced if spring pruning is avoided so that a flush of growth does not occur at the same time as the population is building. Timing of pruning is important in lemons to avoid wet periods of rain and fog to reduce the spread of hyphoderma wood rot fungus when its fruiting bodies are active.
Pruning can change pest pressure by changing the humidity in the canopy, introducing light and changing the climate supporting disease and pests. By making spray coverage more thorough, it also makes for a more effective application. Modified skirt pruning can have significant effects on mealy bug and scale control, fuller rose weevil incidence, ant colonization and snail damage. It’s important that the trunk be protected as an avenue of movement for snail and ant control to get the best effects of this pruning. Skirt pruning also reduces problems with such weeds as bladder pod and the ladder effect of brown rot in citrus – fungal propagules splashed from the ground onto low-hanging fruit, which in turn is splashed to higher fruit.
Keeping a canopy clean of dust and fire ash also makes for more efficient biological control. Because predators are slowed in their search, they are less efficient. They also spend more time grooming their sensory organs, and this also slows them down. Parasites such as wasps are actually slowed by the physical abrasion to their tarsi. Dust also creates a drier environment, which is more hospitable to our pest mites. Watering picking rows, roads and even the trees themselves can lessen mite populations. Use of cover crops can also reduce dust and potentially provide pollen and nectar for predators and parasites. Of course cover crops create a whole new set of management issues, such as colder winter orchards and snails
Finally harvest timing to avoid pest and disease is often overlooked. In avocado, fruit is often set in clusters. Greenhouse thrips love the microclimate created, and if in a size-pick the cluster is reduced, greenhouse thrips will often not be a problem. Harvest timing is also important in citrus. Fruit left too long on the tree can often develop septoria fungal spot. Picking in a timely manner reduces the incidence of this disease.
These are just a few examples of how cultural practice at the right time can reduce pest and disease problems.