Are simple empirical crop coefficient approaches for determining pecan water use readily transferrable across a wide range of conditions?

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 15
  • SDG 13
  • Abstract:

    The accurate estimation of evapotranspiration (ET) of orchard crops is critical for judicious irrigation water management and planning. However, it is impossible to measure ET under all possible combinations of climate and management practices, which necessitates the use of ET models. Although empirical models are more likely to be adopted by consultants and growers, due to easier parameterization and the requirements for fewer, more easily measured input parameters, they may not always be transferable across a wide range of conditions. As a result these models may not always give acceptably accurate ET values outside of the area in which they were calibrated. This study therefore aimed to evaluate empirical crop coefficient models for pecans in two different orchards which differ in climate and/or fractional canopy cover from where the models were developed. When testing the FAO-56 approach it was found that pecans should not be grouped under stone fruit and that a six stage crop growth should be considered, instead of the traditional four stage curve. Improved accuracy in estimating ET of pecans could, however, be achieved by using a pecan specific reference crop coefficients for a mature orchard and scaling this with fractional canopy cover for different orchards, provided that an adjustment was made for the influence of climate on canopy development. This was achieved by using a published growing degree (GDD) day crop coefficient relationship, provided seasonal accumulated thermal time is below 1600 GDD and that crop coefficients do not exceed 1.1.