Fruit and oil quality of mature olive trees under partial rootzone drying
Keywords:Deficit irrigation, Oil fatty acid composition, Picholine marocaine, PRD
This study was conducted to evaluate the quantitative and qualitative effects of partial rootzone drying (PRD) irrigation on olive trees and their fruit and oil quality. Olive trees of the Moroccan Picholine variety were grown under arid conditions in Marrakech, and exposed to four irrigation treatments: Control (irrigated with 100 % of the crop evapotranspiration, on the two sides of the root system), PRD1 (irrigated with 50 % of the control, on one side of the root system, switching every two weeks), PRD2 (irrigated with 50 % of the control, on one side of the root system, switching every four weeks) and PRD3 (irrigated with the same amount of water as the control applied on one side of the root system, switching every two weeks). The individual fruit weight, dimensions and oil contents were generally greater under PRD than the control. Whereas, the fruit water content was lower under PRD1 and PRD2 than the control and PRD3. Oil acidity was not affected by irrigation, while the total polyphenol content, which affects the oxidative stability and sensory characteristics of the oil, increased in response to the PRD irrigation, especially under PRD1 (246.0 ppm) and PRD2 (278.5 ppm) treatments, against 148.4 ppm and 101.8 ppm for PRD3 and the control respectively. This increase could explain the oil bitterness observed under PRD1 and PRD2. The fatty acid composition was not affected by PRD1 and PRD2. The oil quality based on UV absorption coefficients (K232 and K270) decreased significantly under PRD2. Chlorophyll content and maturity index were antagonistic, and olive ripeness was found to be precocious under PRD irrigation treatments compared to the control.
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