Effect of Preharvest Deficit Irrigation on Second Crop Watermelon Grown in an Extremely Hot Climate

Kirnak H. , Dogan E., Bilgel L., Berakatoglu K.

JOURNAL OF IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE ENGINEERING, vol.135, no.2, pp.141-148, 2009 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 135 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Doi Number: 10.1061/(asce)0733-9437(2009)135:2(141)
  • Page Numbers: pp.141-148


As a second crop, watermelons (Citrullus vulgaris, Crimson sweet) were grown in 2003 and 2004 in the Sanliurfa-Harran Plain in southeastern Turkey to determine the effect of preharvest water stress on fruit yield, quality (i.e., soluble solids contents and fruit size), leaf temperature, and some other physiological parameters. Preharvest drip irrigation treatments included (1) complete irrigation cutoff, dry (D); (2) full irrigation based on replenishment of soil water depleted from 0 to 90 cm soil profile (C); (3) 75% full irrigation (IR1); (4) 50% full irrigation (IR2); and (5) 25% full irrigation (IR3) with 3-day irrigation interval. Treatment plots received the same level of irrigation water until the fruit formation stage, except for Treatment D. Then, different water stress levels were imposed on treatment plots. Irrigation water applied to the five respective treatments were 636, 511, 395, 245, and 120 mm in 2003 and 648, 516, 403, 252, and 127 mm in 2004. Results indicated that fruit yield was significantly lowered by reduced water rates. The seasonal average yield response factor (k(y)) for both years was 1.0, but it was 0.97 for 2003 and 0.98 for 2004. The highest marketable fruit yield, obtained from treatment C, was 32.4 Mg ha(-1) in 2003 and 37.1 Mg ha(-1) in 2004. D, IR2, and IR3 treatments reduced most measured parameters, except for soluble solids contents (SSC). Both the fruit size and SSC were significantly affected by late-season irrigation management; individual fruit weights were significantly reduced, whereas SSC increased in the IR2 and IR3 treatments compared to the control values. The writers' results clearly indicated that reduced preharvest irrigation was detrimental. Water use efficiency (WUE) was significantly affected by irrigation treatments. Even a 25% reduction in the irrigation amount caused a 15% reduction in marketable yield. This indicates that deficit irrigation in the ripening stage significantly increased water use efficiency. The study demonstrated that a moderate deficit irrigation, which is replenishment up to 50% of soil water depleted in the root zone, can be successfully used to improve WUE under semiarid climatic conditions.