Field experiments were conducted in 2008 and 2009 to determine the effects of deficit irrigation on yield and water use of field grown eggplants. A total of 8 irrigation treatments (four each year), which received different amounts of irrigation water, were evaluated. In 2008, deficit irrigation was applied at full vegetative growth (WS-V), pre-flowering (WS-F) and fruit ripening (WS-R), while in 2009 deficit irrigation was applied during the whole growing season at 80 (WS-80), 60 (WS-60) and 40% (WS-40) of field capacity. Deficit-irrigated treatments were in both years compared to a well irrigated control. Regular readings of soil water content (SWC) in 2008 and 2009 showed that average soil water deficit (SWD) in the control was around 30% of total available water (TAW) while in deficit-irrigated treatments it varied between 50 and 75% of TAW. In 2008, deficit irrigation reduced fruit fresh yield by 35, 25 and 33% in WS-V, WS-F and WS-R treatments, respectively, when compared to the control (33.0 t ha-1). However, the reduction in fresh yield in response to deficit irrigation was compensated by an increase in fruit mean weight. Results obtained in 2009 showed that fruit fresh yield in the control was 33.7 t ha-1, while it was 12, 39 and 60% less in WS-80, WS-60 and WS-40 treatments, respectively. On the other hand, fruit dry matter content and water productivity were found to increase significantly in both years in deficit-irrigated treatments. Applying deficit irrigation for 2 weeks prior to flowering (WS-F) resulted in water saving of the same magnitude of the WS-80 treatment, with the least yield reduction, making more water available to irrigate other crops, and thereby considered optimal strategies for drip-irrigated eggplants in the semi-arid climate of the central Bekaa Valley of Lebanon.
- use efficiency
- drip irrigation