Evaluating spatially resolved influence of soil and tree water status on quality of European plum grown in semi-humid climate

Jana Käthner, Alon Ben-Gal, Robin Gebbers, Aviva Peeters, Werner B. Herppich, Manuela Zude-Sasse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


In orchards, the variations of fruit quality and its determinants are crucial for resource effective measures. In the present study, a drip-irrigated plum production (Prunus domestica L. “Tophit plus”/Wavit) located in a semi-humid climate was studied. Analysis of the apparent electrical conductivity (ECa) of soil showed spatial patterns of sand lenses in the orchard. Water status of sample trees was measured instantaneously by means of leaf water potential, φleaf [MPa], and for all trees by thermal imaging of canopies and calculation of the crop water stress index (CWSI). Methods for determining CWSI were evaluated. A CWSI approach calculating canopy and reference temperatures from the histogram of pixels from each image itself was found to suit the experimental conditions. Soil ECa showed no correlation with specific leaf area ratio and cumulative water use efficiency (WUEc) derived from the crop load. The fruit quality, however, was influenced by physiological drought stress in trees with high crop load and, resulting (too) high WUEc, when fruit driven water demand was notmet. As indicated by analysis of variance, neither ECa nor the instantaneous CWSI could be used as predictors of fruit quality, while the interaction of CWSI and WUEc did succeed in indicating significant differences. Consequently, both WUEc and CWSI should be integrated in irrigation scheduling for positive impact on fruit quality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1053
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
StatePublished - 20 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Fruit quality
  • Plum
  • Precision horticulture
  • Spatial variability
  • Tree water status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science

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