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Deficit irrigation improves yield and quality of processing spinach


, : Deficit irrigation improves yield and quality of processing spinach. Hortscience 38(5): 720, August

The objective of this work was to determine yield, water use efficiency, and leaf quality responses to deficit irrigation rates of processing spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.). Three irrigation treatments were imposed with a Center pivot system, 100%, 75%, and 50% crop evapotranspiration rates (ETc). Commercial cultivars used were: DMC 09, ASR 157 and CXF 3665. Raised (15-cm high) beds spaced 1.0 m apart were made in a 2.7-ha block used in a rotation with corn and fallow. Spinach seeds were planted with a vacuum planter with four and two lines per bed during October 2001 and November 2002, respectively. In the first season, cumulative water received for each treatment was 195 mm for 100% ETc, 149 mm for the 75% ETc and 119 mm for the 50% ETc. Plots were cut with a commercial harvester following standard procedures used for canning spinach in the region. Leaf quality was significantly affected by deficit irrigation and cultivar. Leaf yellowness was higher at 50% ETc, response that was more evident for the cv. CXF 3665. The percentage excess stem was higher at 100% ETc, with 'CXF 3665' having longer stems than 'ASR 157' and 'DMC 09'. Marketable yields were significantly higher for 'ARS 157' at either 100% or 75% ETc rates, compared to cvs. DMC 09-and CXF 3665. Highest water use efficiency was also measured for 'ASR 157' at 75% ETc. This work demonstrates that it is possible to reach a 25% water savings in one season, without reducing yields when using vigorous cultivars.

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