Response of Navel Lane Late citrus trees to regulated deficit irrigation: yield components and fruit composition
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The effects of mid-summer regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) treatments were investigated on Navel Lane Late citrus trees over four seasons. Water restrictions applied from July until mid-September were compared with irrigation at full crop evapotranspiration (ETc). Two degrees of water restrictions were imposed: (1) RDI-1, irrigated at around 50% ETc and, (2) RDI-2, irrigated at 30-40% ETc. In addition, threshold values of midday stem water potential (Is) of -1.3 to -1.5 MPa for RDI-1 and of -1.5 to -1.7 MPa for RDI-2 were also taken into account. Results showed that Navel Lane Late is a citrus cultivar sensitive to water deficit since both RDI strategies reduced fruit size every year and water use efficiency in RDI trees was similar to control trees. However, the RDI-1 strategy allowed water savings up to 19% without reduction in yield when the water stress integral did not surpass 70 MPa day. RDI improved fruit quality, increasing total soluble solids and titratable acidity, while the fruit maturity was delayed. In conclusion, we suggest that RDI-1 strategy since it did not significantly impair the economic return can be applied in commercial orchards in case of water scarcity. Nevertheless, Navel Lane Late fruit is sensitive to water deficit and the fruit weight can be detrimentally affected.