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Managing drought risk in a changing climate: Irrigation and cultivar impacts on Michigan asparagus


  • Brainard, D.C.
  • Byl, B.
  • Hayden, Z.D.
  • Noyes, D.C.
  • Bakker, J.
  • Werling, B.


Increasing temperatures and rainfall variability in the Midwestern U.S. have spurred interest in strategies to reduce risks of heat and drought stress in traditionally rainfed crops including asparagus. A long-term field experiment was conducted on sandy soils in Western Michigan from 2010-17 to evaluate the effects of three levels of irrigation (none, overhead or sub-surface drip) and two asparagus cultivars (Guelph Millennium [GM] and Jersey Supreme [JS]) for reducing these risks. Overhead irrigation during the fern growth period resulted in cumulative yield improvements of 10% for GM during the 2012-17 growing seasons, with the largest yield benefits (21%) occurring in 2012, following hot, dry conditions the previous summer. In contrast, cumulative yields of JS were unaffected by irrigation, and yield reductions of 13% due to irrigation were observed in 2017, following wet conditions the previous late summer and fall. Estimates of cultivar water-use by depth suggest that JS was better able to tolerate drought due to a deeper root system compared to GM. However, our results suggest that JS may also be more sensitive than GM to excessive soil moisture during fall senescence. Yield response did not vary with delivery system, but sub-surface drip used less water than overhead irrigation. These results demonstrate the important role of both genetics and management practices in mitigating drought risk.

Suggested Citation

  • Brainard, D.C. & Byl, B. & Hayden, Z.D. & Noyes, D.C. & Bakker, J. & Werling, B., 2019. "Managing drought risk in a changing climate: Irrigation and cultivar impacts on Michigan asparagus," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 213(C), pages 773-781.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agiwat:v:213:y:2019:i:c:p:773-781
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agwat.2018.11.017

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jana Schwarz & Monica Schuster & Bernd Annaert & Miet Maertens & Erik Mathijs, 2016. "Sustainability of Global and Local Food Value Chains: An Empirical Comparison of Peruvian and Belgian Asparagus," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(4), pages 1-22, April.
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:4:p:344:d:67774 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Richards, Richard A., 2006. "Physiological traits used in the breeding of new cultivars for water-scarce environments," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 80(1-3), pages 197-211, February.
    4. Lopez, Jose R. & Erickson, John E. & Asseng, Senthold & Bobeda, Edmundo Lopez, 2017. "Modification of the CERES grain sorghum model to simulate optimum sweet sorghum rooting depth for rainfed production on coarse textured soils in a sub-tropical environment," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 181(C), pages 47-55.
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