Effects of deficit irrigation on the yield and irrigation water use efficiency of drip-irrigated sweet pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) under Mediterranean conditions

  • A. Abdelkhalik
  • B. PascualEmail author
  • I. Nájera
  • M. A. Domene
  • C. Baixauli
  • N. Pascual-Seva
Original Paper


Water scarcity is seriously affecting agricultural production, especially in arid and semi-arid areas. Therefore, there is increasing interest in improving water productivity in agriculture. This research aims to study the effects of deficit irrigation on the productive response of sweet pepper plants. Nine deficit irrigation strategies were assayed during two seasons (2017 and 2018) in a randomised complete block design with three replicates. These irrigation strategies consisted of applying 100%, 75% and 50% of the irrigation water requirement (IWR) during the entire growing period (continued deficit irrigation) or applying 75% or 50% of the IWR during one of the following stages (regulated deficit irrigation): vegetative growth, fruit setting, and harvesting. Pepper plants cultivated under deficit irrigation reduced fruit biomass and indicators of plant water status. Applying water deficits during the vegetative growth and fruit-setting stages had minimal effects on the marketable yield but with minimal water savings. Irrigating pepper plants with 75% or 50% of the IWR during the entire crop cycle or with 50% of the IWR during harvesting resulted in a high incidence of fruits affected by blossom end rot, which in turn, led to a drastic reduction of the marketable yield in relation to fully irrigated plants (− 36%, − 55% and − 44%, respectively). These strategies also recorded the highest soluble solid and phenolic contents. Reducing the water applied to 75% of the IWR at harvesting led to a yield reduction (− 19%) but with important water savings (21%) and acceptable levels of soluble fruit solids and phenolic compounds.



Available water content


Blossom end rot


Colour index




Continued deficit irrigation




Actual crop evapotranspiration


Maximum crop evapotranspiration


Reference evapotranspiration


Crop evapotranspiration


Dry matter


Irrigation efficiency


Evaporation from a class A pan


Field capacity


Fresh weight


Growing season


Hue angle


Harvest index


Irrigation strategy


Irrigation water applied


Irrigation water requirement


Irrigation water use efficiency


Crop coefficient


Pan coefficient


Yield response factor


Marketable yield


Maturity index


Membrane stability index


Effective precipitation


Permanent wilting point


Regulated deficit irrigation


Relative water content


Soluble solids content


Volumetric soil water content


Water use efficiency


Actual marketable yield


Maximum marketable yield


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Abdelkhalik
    • 1
    • 2
  • B. Pascual
    • 3
    Email author
  • I. Nájera
    • 4
  • M. A. Domene
    • 5
  • C. Baixauli
    • 4
  • N. Pascual-Seva
    • 3
  1. 1.Departamento Producción VegetalUniversitat Politècnica de ValènciaValenciaSpain
  2. 2.Horticulture Department, Faculty of AgricultureFayoum UniversityFayoumEgypt
  3. 3.Centro Valenciano de Estudios sobre el RiegoUniversitat Politècnica de ValènciaValenciaSpain
  4. 4.Centro de Experiencias de Cajamar PaiportaPaiportaSpain
  5. 5.Estación Experimental de Cajamar Las PalmerillasEl EjidoSpain

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