Effects of timing and duration of brackish irrigation water on fruit yield and quality of late summer melons

Amnon Bustan, Shabtai Cohen, Yoel De Malach, Philip Zimmermann, Rami Golan, Moshe Sagi, Dov Pasternak

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    47 Scopus citations


    Brackish water (7 dS m-1) is frequently utilized to drip-irrigate crops in the Negev desert of Israel, the practice being to use deep sandy soils (96% sand) to avoid soil salinization. When muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.), a moderately salt-sensitive crop species, was grown using brackish irrigation under these conditions, yields declined due to a significant reduction in fruit size, but fruit quality parameters improved markedly. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that the use of fresh irrigation water during the early vegetative phase would increase canopy size and leaf area index (LAI) and hence the potential productivity of the melon plant. The application of brackish water during the reproductive phase, on the other hand, would improve fruit quality. Using multiple irrigations within a 24-h period, applied with drip irrigation, we examined the timing, the duration, and the concentration of brackish irrigation water as tools to optimize fruit yield and quality in late-summer melons. Indeed, the combination of fresh (1.2 dS m -1) and brackish (7 dS m-1) irrigation water increased the yield level to that of fresh water plants whereas it brought about the improvement of fruit quality typical to brackish water plants, thus providing an attractive approach to optimize late-summer melon production. Our results demonstrate the trade-off between fruit size and fruit quality as related to the timing and the duration of brackish irrigation water. The use of a milder (<4.5 dS m-1) salinity level of irrigation water from plant emergence until harvest may be considered as well.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)123-134
    Number of pages12
    JournalAgricultural Water Management
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 1 Jun 2005


    • Arid
    • Carbon exchange rate
    • Cucumis melo
    • Drip irrigation
    • Fruit size
    • Leaf area index
    • Salinity
    • Total soluble solids

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Agronomy and Crop Science
    • Water Science and Technology
    • Soil Science
    • Earth-Surface Processes


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