Valencia orange crops are productive despite lack of water
A UNal research project discovered that water stress does not significantly impact Valencia orange crop productivity, allowing optimal yield levels with considerable water savings.Palmira, 11 de abril de 2014 — Agencia de Noticias UN-
According to the Statistical Agrarian Survey carried out by the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE, for its Spanish acronym), Colombia has approximately 62,409 hectares (154,000 acres) of citric crops of which 51,665 (127,600 acres) are monocultures and 10,743 (25,880 acres) are in associated crops. Orange crops are 59.2% and have a production of 474,313 tons and an approximate yield of 15 tons per hectare (2.4 acres).
According to UNal Civil and Agrarian Engineering Department Professor Javier Enrique Vélez Sánchez this fruit is grown in areas with diverse weather conditions, amongst them the foothills of the Province of Meta where most of the Valencia oranges are cultivated.
“In this area the rainy season is between March and November and the dry season between December and the end of February which is characterized by a critical water deficit,” said Vélez.
In the current drought context of the country they began a research project with the purpose of determining water deficit intensity and its effects on growth and development of Valencia oranges (Citrus sinensis Osbeck) by means of applying a controlled and measured irrigation system in crops in the Province of Meta.
In order to calculate the hydric balance researchers considered variables such as monthly average rainfall, effective rainfall and evaporation amongst others. Climatic data was obtained from the meteorological station of the Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies Institute (IDEAM, for its Spanish acronym) located at the La Libertad research station.
Besides assessing the hydric status of soil and plants, researchers evaluated phenological behavior (relationship between climatic elements and plant cycles) and fruit growth.
Results showed that during different Valencia orange growth and developmental stages moderate stress during the first growth stage can be supplemented with rain contribution in the following stages without impacting quality and production.
The hydric potential of the stalk clearly showed the behavior of plants according to the levels of applied water. They evidenced that this orange variety shows quick recovery in adequate water supply conditions.
“Although the stress stage (stage I) did not impact the equatorial diameter of fruits, it did have a bearing on final development,” said Vélez.
According to the research project water stress did not significantly impact tree productivity in the studied treatments, although they did observe increased floral abortions due to lack of water.
“The average obtained yields and orange fruit quality allows inferring that Valencia oranges have acceptable production levels in the conditions present at the Province of Meta foothills in Colombia,” said Vélez.
The research project was published in Acta Agronómica a scientific journal of UNal-Palmira which is an indexed and recognized journal in agrarian sciences topics.(Por: Fin/JCR/SUP