Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Agriculture - Crop Science


Horticulture and Crop Science


Dr. Keith Patterson


Regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) is a common and useful practice for water conservation and improving grape quality. To attain better grape characteristics and wine quality, a substantial degree of irrigation stress is intentionally allowed to occur during the first part of berry formation and can continue until later into veraison. Understanding the effects of deficit irrigation on photosynthetic rates could be helpful in determining at what degree and duration a grower should perform this irrigation practice. The focus of this study was to determine the effects of using differing degrees of RDI in a vineyard located in Paso Robles, California (central coast region) on gas exchange of the Syrah variety. The target irrigation levels were set for each season at 75, 60, 45, and 30% ETc of a fully irrigated vine (100% ET). The 60% replication was considered as the control for this study, as it is the standard target ET rate for the vineyard where this study was conducted. A gas analyzer (LICOR 6200) was used to measure the overall rate of photosynthesis during two successive growing seasons (2004 & 2005). Measurements were taken from bloom through harvest and were compared among the four different irrigation levels. Along with overall photosynthetic rate, the leaf temperature, stomatal conductance, light level, and relative humidity were also measured. The results of the two year study were statistically compared through an analysis of variance (ANOVA) and analyzed for their significance. The results of the study showed that minor differences in the mean photosynthetic rates were found to occur during brief periods of the growing season. These differences ranged from 1-4 weeks and did not occur at similar times of the growing season. However, no statistical significant differences were found to exist when compared among the four irrigation levels for the entire growing season. Observed differences in canopy sizes indicated that irrigation amounts had affected the overall growth to some degree during this two year study. Several plant physiological measurements showed a significant difference in the measured gas exchange rates between sun exposed leaves and the shade leaves within the treatment area. A significant correlation of the effect of leaf temperature on stomatal conductance was observed to exist in one of the irrigation treatments (45% ET) during this study. Other plant physiological measurements indicated that highly significant differences existed between the photosynthesis rate and leaf temperature. Photosynthetic rates were highly significantly correlated to leaf conductance, air temperature, and relative humidity. A significant difference of photosynthetic rates was identified to occur between stomatal conductance and air temperature. This study concludes that differential irrigation amounts on Syrah in the Central Coast region, specifically Paso Robles, have minimal effect on overall photosynthetic rate and does not fully support the anisohydric stomatal reaction that has recently been studied by plant physiologists working with this variety.