College - Author 1
College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences
Department - Author 1
Plant Sciences Department
Degree Name - Author 1
BS in Agricultural and Environmental Plant Sciences
Scott Steinmaus, College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences, Plant Science Department
California’s water supply is seeing stress and growers are increasingly under pressure to lower their water use. While reducing irrigation to strawberry plants can be used to raise sugars (°bx), research on the impact of deficit irrigation on plant growth, fruit yield and quality are not yet quantified. The purpose of this experiment is to observe the effects of a ~50% deficit irrigation treatment on tabletop strawberry plants where drainage measurements and plant absorption can be recorded. Results indicate that plant vigor and total marketable yield are predominantly treatment dependent whereas fruit characteristics, including culls and berry size are reliant on a variety’s genetics. Despite this trial including only advanced selections, these Driscoll’s varieties revealed a wide range of responses to deficit irrigation in terms of water-use efficiency (WUE) and vigor. Variety E (Var_E) has a similar yield to the much larger Var_M, yet the former’s higher WUE suggests a more favorable allocation of water to fruit development rather than auxiliary plant growth. Unlocking the genetic component of water allocation in strawberry plants may allow breeders to select for varieties that prioritize fruit growth over excessive shoot development, increasing the grams of berry yield per liter of water applied.