The appropriate supply of water is a key factor for the productive and commercial success in the production of fruits. The citrus industry in Tucuman should not depend only on the rains; especially when one takes into account their irregular and erratic behavior in recent years, stated irrigation specialist Gustavo Aguilar.
“Spring in Tucuman and the NOA is very dry and has high temperatures. This puts citrus plants under strong water and thermal stress at a time that they have one of their greatest water requirements because of flowering and fruit setting,” he said. The evapotranspiration demand of crops during that time reaches alarming values, he stressed. “Localized irrigation constitutes a cultural practice with notable effects in determining the volume of fruit; both in quality and quantity," he added.
In this sense, he said, there isn't enough water supply for cultivation in the NOA. "As a result, we can't predict the result of flowering. The plants will produce fewer fruits and have a negative impact on the next harvest," he said.
A study carried out by technicians from the Obispo Colombres Agroindustrial Experimental Station (Eeaoc) determined that, based on the distribution of rainfall in Tucumán and the monthly evapotranspiration values, there is a period with marked water deficit, which coincides with the critical time of flowering and fruit set, Aguilar stated.
He also said that the plantations that produce fruit for export should not suffer stress of any kind or duration, as this would reduce the quantity and final quality of the harvest.
A study carried out by Foguet and Salvador Campo (former Eeaoc technicians) based on data from 1965 to 1972 determined that, in a total of 96 months, producers in Tucuman should have watered their crops for 57 months. This means that irrigation would have been key to ensuring the harvest in some years, and not just a complement to increase production. “Tucuman is the world's leading lemon producer; production can't depend on the rains," Aguilar stressed.