In spite of the great potential of the "tabuleiros costeiros" of the Brazilian northeast for agricultural production in terms of favourable relief for mechanization and proximity of the big consumer centres, the bad rainfall distribution together with hardened soil horizons near the soil surface in many soil classes of this ecosystem, often promote serious problems of water supply to the plants. This work was carried out in an Aquic Kandiustalf with the objective of evaluating the influence of some soil physical characteristics, mainly those of the hardened layers, on the growth of citrus, in order to generate new technologies, appropriate for this ecosystem and that could be able to garantee an adequate water supply to plants for a greater period. For this, soil physical and chemical characteristics, with emphasis on those responsible for the changes of the physical growth parameters (soil water potential, soil aeration, soil resistence to penetration), were evaluated; the climate conditions were also characterized. According to the results it could be concluded that the presence of extensive hardened layers near the soil surface, together with the region's climate regime, are evidences that great changes will occur in the physical factors of growth, with reflections on soil water redistribution and citrus rooting system, which under these circunstances will remain limited to a small volume of soil near the soil surface.
hardened layers; citrus; water deficit; tabuleiros