Post-harvest Deficit Irrigation for Improved Resilience of Cherries to Climate Change [fi22]
|Status||in progress: Apr 2019 to Jan 2023|
|Project Lead||University of British Columbia, Okanagan|
|Funding Partners||Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, BC Ministry of Agriculture, Private foundation|
|Other Partners||BC Cherry Association|
This project will evaluate the impact of post-harvest deficit irrigation in cherry production to determine how much water usage can be reduced while maintaining tree health, fruit yield and fruit quality.
Climate models predict drier and hotter summer conditions for the Okanagan, which will lead to lower snowpack levels and limit future water supply in the region. These conditions also allow cherry production to expand northward and to higher elevations, and expansion of agricultural capacity requires more efficient water use.
However, by altering soil moisture patterns, post-harvest deficit irrigation may have unexpected effects on the development and maintenance of cold hardiness. Project researchers are partnering with commercial cherry growers to examine the implications of post-harvest deficit irrigation for water use efficiency, cold hardiness, and fruit yield and quality before and after cold storage over three growing seasons. Test sites will be located along various longitudinal and elevational gradients in the Okanagan Valley.
The project will also assess ways to enhance cherry resilience in dry conditions and determine best practices for cherry water management, using cost/benefit analysis and a cherry cold hardiness model. Knowledge transfer will include field days at the trial sites and industry outreach in partnership with the BC Cherry Association.