Economic analysis of navel orange cv. 'Lane late' grown on two different drought-tolerant rootstocks under deficit irrigation in South-eastern Spain
During a three-year period, we evaluated the profitability of a deficit-irrigation (DI) treatment in mature `Lane late' navel orange (Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.) trees grafted on two different drought-tolerant rootstocks, `Cleopatra' mandarin (Citrus reshni Hort. ex Tanaka) and `Carrizo' citrange (C. sinensis (L.) Osb. x Poncirus trifoliata L. Raf.). The irrigation strategies for each rootstock were a control treatment, irrigated at 100% crop evapotranspiration (ETc) during the entire season, and a DI, irrigated at 100% ETc except during phase I (fruit set) and phase III (fruit maturation) of fruit growth, when complete irrigation cut-off was applied. The main difference found was between rootstocks, orchards of `Carrizo' being 39% more profitable than those of `Cleopatra' due to the greater yield and fruit size and higher price (0.02 [euro] kg-1) for trees on `Carrizo'. The application of the DI treatment increased the profit for `Carrizo' since the decrease in pruning costs was greater than the reduction of incomes. The profit of `Cleopatra' under DI decreased due to yield reduction. The variable and fixed operating costs during the growth cycle were decreased by the DI treatment, with a reduction of fertiliser (40%), water applied (30%) and electricity consumed (30%) compared with the control. In addition, in `Carrizo', DI decreased the pruning (16%), machinery (11%) and phytosanitary products (9%) costs as a result of the reduction of the canopy growth. From these results, we conclude that, with similar crop management, orchards of `Lane late' navel orange on `Carrizo' rootstock were more profitable than those on `Cleopatra' under deficit-irrigation conditions.
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