Water (and Money) can be Conserved without Compromising Onion Yield or Quality

Rainfall can be excessive during crop production in some areas. However, in an increasing number of others, irrigation water is very precious. There, using irrigation tools and methods that conserve water while maintaining yield and quality is critical. However, even in areas where irrigation water is plentiful, the same efficient irrigation approaches can save farmers money and have other benefits.
Working in Texas, the team of Enciso and coworkers demonstrate that onion yield and quality can be maintained at soil moisture levels lower than some may expect. Six irrigation treatments based on when drip irrigation was triggered and how much water was applied were tested. The team drew these and other conclusions. First, scheduling irrigation according to soil moisture sensors or calculations of crop evapotranspirative demand is reliable. And, second, replacing less than 100% of the crop’s calculated water demand may not alter marketable yield, pungency, or Brix compared to replacing all of the crop’s water demand.