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Productivity responses of asparagus to droughting in a tropical environment

Bright, J. Mr; Ph. (08) 8973 9768; Fax (08) 8973 9777; Jeremy.Bright@DPIF.nt.gov.au

Research organisation: Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Katherine Research Station, PO Box 1346, Katherine NT 0851

Sponsors: RIRDC: Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation

Objectives:

The objectives of the project were to determine the effects of droughting (intensity and duration) on:

1. The total yield and quality of spears;

2. The levels of carbohydrates in the plant and how this affects objective 1;

3. Root system development (length and distribution); and

4. Crown health and longevity.

From this, the application of droughting as a management tool for tropical asparagus production can be assessed, and guidelines for use by commercial growers developed.

Methodology:

1. Study the effect of moisture stress at four soil matric potentials over five different durations prior to harvest on spear production and quality.

2. Conduct field trials on a property of four different moisture stress durations prior to harvest with particular reference to harvest efficiency and commercial considerations.

3. Examine root distribution and depth within a commercial planting in order to refine irrigation management.

Progress: Outcomes of the trial show the duration of drought dormancy of asparagus in a tropical environment to be significantly less than previously thought. The dry season (March-November) in this region gives growers total control of water regimes. It is a time when no rainfall, dry warm days and low humidity are the norm. Growers in North Australia are able to impose a 10-20 day dormancy and harvest during the southern State dormancy period. This enhanced knowledge of asparagus response to droughting has provided a new and powerful management technique to manipulate crop phenology and physiology to maximise returns during periods of low supply and high prices.

Period: starting date 1994-06; completion date 1997-12

Status: completed

Keywords: asparagus, droughting

Publications: RIRDC report in preparation; due to be completed early 1999. Report gives details of benefits of drought management as a tool for tropical asparagus.

 

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