Valencia oranges perform well under hydric stress

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Valencia oranges perform well under hydric stress

Even with low water access, Valencia orange trees were found to maintain their fruit size and productivity, according to a study from Colombia's Universidad Nacional.SONY DSC

Driven by the nation's current drought situation, university researchers put Valencia oranges to the test by applying different irrigation levels to plantations in the Meta foothills where fruit suffer high water deficit from December to February.

To calculate the role of water in overall productivity, the team evaluated average monthly precipitation, phenological behavior, and climate data from the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM) in La Libertad.

The study found that moderate hydric stress during the first growth phase may be offset with rains later in fruit development without having an overall effect on production and quality. The findings indicate rapid recovery for this variety, given adequate water supply during later phases of fruit development.

University professor Javier Enrique Vélez Sánchez pointed out that while fruit sizing was not affected, hydric stress did have certain repercussions on overall development. While trees maintained output, those that received lower levels of irrigation water lost a greater number of flowers.

"The average yield obtained and the quality of fruit supports the conclusion that the Valencia variety presents acceptable production levels under the conditions found in Colombia's Meta foothills," Vélez said.

Colombia currently has 62,409 Ha. of citrus planted nationally, about 59% of which are oranges.

The study was published in the Acta Agronómica journal at the university's branch in Palmira.

Photo: Universidad Nacional de Colombia

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