Subtropical Fruit Crops Research & Education
University of California
Subtropical Fruit Crops Research & Education

Posts Tagged: irrigation

Ready! Set! Split! Navel Orange Time.

These are hard days for navel oranges.  Drought stress.  Salt stress due to drought. Then a heat wave in July that messed the trees up.  And now we head into a weird fall with maybe rain. Maybe no rain. Maybe a little rain. This is ripe for navel splitting. This time of year when they are starting to build sugar, they are also ripe for splitting.

Years of drought, and a stressed tree are a perfect set up for navel oranges and fruit splitting.
The days have turned cooler and suddenly out of nowhere there is rain. That wonderful stuff comes down and all seems right with the world, but then you notice the navel fruit are splitting. Rats! No, a dehydrated fruit that has taken on more water than its skin can take in and the fruit splits. This is called an abiotic disease.  Not really a disease but a problem brought on by environmental conditions.

Fruit splitting is a long-standing problem in most areas where navel oranges are grown. In some years, the number of split fruit is high; in other years it is low. Splitting in navel oranges usually occurs on green fruit between September and November. In some years, splitting may also occur in Valencia oranges but it is less of a problem than in navel oranges.

Several factors contribute to fruit splitting. Studies indicate that changes in weather including temperature, relative humidity and wind may have more effect on fruit splitting than anything else. The amount of water in a citrus tree changes due to weather conditions and this causes the fruit to shrink and swell as water is lost or gained. If the water content changes too much or too rapidly the rind may split. In navel oranges the split usually occurs near the navel, which is a weak point in the rind.

Proper irrigation and other cultural practices can help reduce fruit splitting. Maintaining adequate but not excessive soil moisture is very important. A large area of soil around a tree should be watered since roots normally grow somewhat beyond the edge of the canopy. Wet the soil to a depth of at least 2 feet then allow it to become somewhat dry in the top few inches before irrigating again. Applying a layer of coarse organic mulch under a tree beginning at least a foot from the trunk can help conserve soil moisture and encourage feeder roots to grow closer to the surface.  

If trees are fertilized, apply the correct amount of plant food and water thoroughly after it is applied.  If the soil is dry, first irrigate, then apply fertilizer and irrigate again.

navel split
navel split

Posted on Friday, November 2, 2018 at 4:55 AM
Tags: citrus (310), irrigation (76), navel orange (2), rain (17), water (48), weather (8)

Irrigating with an Atmometer?

Say what? Atmosphere meters can be used to assess irrigation requirement. Here's a great little report from Mark Battany, our advisor in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.



  • Author: Mark Battany

Efficient and precise irrigation management is becoming increasingly important inCaliforniaagriculture, both for maximizing crop quality and for conserving water. The most advanced irrigation scheduling strategy is based on local measurements of reference evapotranspiration (ETo), which is converted to crop evapotranspiration (ETc) with an appropriate crop coefficient (kc).

To be able to use this method, an irrigation manager needs to have locally accurate ETo values throughout the growing season. However, the highly variable microclimates that characterize many farming areas often make it difficult to use data from distant weather stations; therefore an accurate local measurement may often be preferable to relying on a regional value.

One inexpensive option for measuring ETo locally is to use a simple atmometer. Atmometers are water-filled devices, in which the actual evaporation of water is measured over time. In their simplest form, the atmometer is outfitted with a graduated sight glass on the water supply tank which allows the user to easily measure the evaporation that occurred over a given period. In practice, this type of atmometer is most suited for making readings at multiple day intervals, for example once per week, or on days when irrigation is applied.

The performance of atmometers versus more expensive weather stations was evaluated on the CentralCoastin 2003. In this study, atmometers were placed adjacent to seven weather stations throughout the area, and weekly values for both methods were compared. The results indicate that the atmometers and weather stations have very comparable ETo readings, with the atmometers indicating somewhat lower ETo values under conditions of lower evapotranspiration.

Like any technique, using atmometers has advantages and disadvantages. Advantages include their very low cost and ease of operation, with no computer or power required. Disadvantages include the potential for damage by freezing weather, the need to refill the water supply (every three to six weeks), and the need to read the gauge manually. Also, if they are installed in a large open area, birds may tend to perch on the evaporating surface and foul it with their droppings; for this reason several wires are installed on top of the device to discourage birds from perching there. In general, atmometers function quite reliably with few problems.

Converting atmometer ETo readings to the amount of irrigation run time required to replenish the soil moisture lost to evapotranspiration is fairly straightforward. A relatively simple example for a sprinkler-irrigated field is presented below in Table 1.

Table 1. Example conversion of ETo to irrigation run times   for a sprinkler irrigated field




A.  Measured atmometer ETo for one week



B.  Crop coefficient (kc)



C.  Calculated ETc for the week (=AxB)



D.  Sprinkler application rate



E.  Hours of irrigation required (=C/D)




(Note: To convert Gallons to Inches: Gallons ÷ Area (square feet) ÷ 0.6234 = Inches. To convert Inches to Gallons: Inches * Area (square feet) ÷ 1.604 = Gallons)

 Regression table showing relationshiop between CIMIS weather station and atmometer

Atmometer in


 Atmometer in the field

atmometer grapes
atmometer grapes

Posted on Friday, June 15, 2018 at 6:28 AM
Tags: atmometer (2), avocdo (1), citrus (310), irrigation (76), scheduling (10)

Water and Nutrient Management in Avocado and Citrus

Recent talks by UC's new irrigation engineers can help shed light on irrigation improvements that also apply to plant health and better orchard management. The Pourreza talk has implications for identifying HLB infected citrus trees, as well as trees in general stress. The Spann presentation shows how avocado growers will be able to adjust fertilizer applications to their orchards.  These talks are posted on the California Avocado Society website.


Below are links to our April Seminar presentations
Click on the presentation title and please make sure to either download or save to your computer
"Old and New Smart Agriculture"
Khaled Bali
Irrigation Specialist, Kearney REC
Alireza Pourreza
Assistant Agricultural Mechanization Engineer, UC Davis
Tim Spann, PHD
CAC Research Program Director, 

avocado irrigation
avocado irrigation

Posted on Friday, May 18, 2018 at 7:20 AM
Tags: avocado (275), drone (2), irrigation (76), nutrients (21), scheduling (10)

Water Magic and How Best to Irrigate New Container-Grown Trees in the Field

This article first appeared in Sacramento Valley Orchard Source


Missing the Target: Why you Should Irrigate Potted Trees Directly onto Potting Media


Why Emitters Should be Placed on the Root Ball at Planting


Dani Lightle, UCCE Orchards Advisor, Glenn Butte & Tehama Counties

N.B. potted trees are standard commercial container grown citrus and avocado trees


Generally, when I am working with growers on a problem related to potted-tree establishment, the cause is lack of water movement into the potted media, creating tree stress. This results from the difference in soil particle size at the boundary between the orchard soil and the tree's potting soil. When you plant a potted tree in your orchard, it has a substrate – some mix of peat and vermiculite – that is very different than your soil type. The change in texture and pore size inhibits water movement from the surrounding soil into the potting media. As a result, Irrigation water applied outside the potted soil media isn't getting to the roots.

The sequence of photos in Figure 1 demonstrates this phenomenon. I set up a mock orchard condition with soil (Tehama series silty loam) next to a potted tree (potting soil) in a ½ inch wide frame. I then slowly added water to match the soil infiltration rate, similar to a drip emitter, approximately 4 inches away from the potting soil in the ‘orchard' soil.

You will see that the water does not move into the potting soil (Figure 1C & D). Two forces – gravitational pull and capillary action – move water downward and laterally in the soil. Since the potting soil is not below the orchard soil, gravity does not move water into the potting soil. Capillary action is not strong enough to move water into the potting soil because the difference in pore size is too great. So, irrigation water goes where it can easily flow – downwards and laterally into dry, native soil but not into the potting soil. More water does not solve the problem, it will just move past your newly planted trees and wet more native soil.

For about the first month of growth, irrigation emitters should be located at the base of the potted tree to ensure the potting medium receives water. Frequently check to ensure that the potting soil stays wet – not the soil somewhere else in the tree row or mound – before, after, and between irrigation sets. The best way to do this is with a small trowel and your hands. Water will need to be applied at the base of the tree until the tree roots grow beyond the potting soil and into your orchard's native soil. The time required for this to happen will vary depending on factors such as temperature, but it should take roughly a month.


Figure 1. This sequence of photos shows the movement of water applied to Tehama series silty-loam soil. Water was applied at the blue arrow, approximately 4 inches from the potting soil. Total elapsed time was 51 minutes. Water moved downwards and laterally but did not cross the boundary into the potting soil.

water movement all together
water movement all together


Posted on Friday, March 2, 2018 at 5:43 AM
  • Author: Dani Lightle
Tags: avocado (275), citrus (310), irrigation (76), planting (8), planting hole (2), planting mix (3), potting mix (2), soil texture (2), water movement (2)

Avocado Seminars Coming Up

Presented by
California Avocado Society, Inc., California Avocado Commission, and University of California Cooperative Extension

 Download all year PDF here.

California Avocado Growers Seminars Series 2018

Scheduled Dates and Topics


February Seminar Topic
Pest Monitoring and Management


Mark Hoddle: Extension Specialist in Biological Control at University of California, Riverside

Avocado pests currently here.
Their biology and control.
What pests to expect in the future.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018,
1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.,
UC Cooperative Extension Office Auditorium, 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Wednesday, February 7, 2018,
9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.,
UC Cooperative Extension Office Auditorium, 669 County Square Dr. Ventura, CA 93003
Thursday, February 8, 2018,
1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.,
Fallbrook Public Utility District Board Rm., 990 East Mission Rd. Fallbrook, CA 92028

April Seminar Topic
Old and New Smart Agriculture



Khaled Bali: Irrigation Specialist, Kearney REC

Alireza Pourreza: Ag Engineer, UC Davis 

Tim Spann: 
California Avocado Commission Research Program Director

In with the Good, Out with the Bad!
What still works:
Soil augers, tensiometers, multisensors with data loggers, soil maps, fertilizer schedules and Crowely's Nutrient Management Calculator.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018,
1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.,
UC Cooperative Extension Office Auditorium, 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Wednesday, April 18, 2018,
9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.,
UC Cooperative Extension Office Auditorium, 669 County Square Dr. Ventura, CA 93003
Thursday, April 19, 2018,
1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.,
Fallbrook Public Utility District Board Rm., 990 East Mission Rd. Fallbrook, CA 92028

June Seminar Topic
Irrigation: Selection of Sensors, Emitters, Injectors and Reading Water Reports

Stuart Styles: Director of Irrigation Training & Research Center, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Selection of sensors, emitters
Reading water reports


Tuesday, June 5, 2018,
1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.,
UC Cooperative Extension Office Auditorium, 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Wednesday, June 6, 2018,
9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.,
UC Cooperative Extension Office Auditorium, 669 County Square Dr. Ventura, CA 93003
Thursday, June 7, 2018,
1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.,
Fallbrook Public Utility District Board Rm., 990 East Mission Rd. Fallbrook, CA 92028

August Seminar Topic
Grower Seminar and Field Tour


Details to come.

Dates/Times/Locations: One site only

Wednesday, August 1, 2018,
10:00 - 2:00 p.m.,
South Coast Research & Extension Center Conference Room, 7601 Irvine Blvd., Irvine, CA 92818

avocado fruit
avocado fruit

Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 8:17 AM
Tags: avocado (275), citrus (310), irrigation (76), tools (1), water (48)

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