Regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) involves inducing water stress during specific fruit growth phases by irrigating at less than full evapotranspiration. The objectives of this research were to study the effects of RDI perfomed at stage II of fruit growth and postharvest, on productivity of clingstone peaches, fruit quality as well as photosynthetic rate and midday leaf water potential. The research was conducted in a commercial clingstone peach (Prunus persica L. Batch cv. A-37) orchard in Greece. Trees were irrigated by means of microsprinklers and their frequency was determined using local meteorological station data and the FAO 56 Pennman-Monteith method. Photosynthetic rate was measured by a portable infrared gas analyzer. Midday leaf water potential was measured by the pressure chamber technique. During the years 2005 and 2006, the treatment RDII with irrigation applied at growth stage II of the peach tree did not affect productivity, fresh and dry mass of fruits. RDII reduced preharvest fruit drop in comparison to the control. RDII as well as the combined treatment RDII plus RDIP with irrigation applied at postharvest, at both years reduced shoot length of the vigorous shoots inside the canopy. RDII in comparison to the control increased the soluble solids content of the fruits and the ratio soluble solids/acidity. However it did not affect fruit acidity and fruit firmness. RDII as well as RDII plus RDIP in 2006 increased 'double' fruits and fruits with open cavity in comparison to the control and RDIP. Water savings were considerable and associated with the climatic conditions of each year.
fruit drop; leaf water potential; photosynthetic rate; water savings