When to Irrigate During Prolonged Dry Conditions

Clint Thompson Alabama, Irrigation, Top Posts

Drip irrigation in a pepper plant field.

By Clint Thompson

Irrigation is a key component of farming vegetables and specialty crops. With scorching temperatures and dry conditions expected for the foreseeable future, producers need to keep their crops watered to maximize yield production.

Andre da Silva, Assistant Professor of Vegetable Crop Systems at Auburn University, said it depends on what type of irrigation systems that farmers have that will determine when they need to water their crops.

“If you are a grower with overhead irrigation, then water applications should be early in the morning or late afternoon when you don’t have too much loss by evaporation. Usually, under overhead irrigation the loss of water, it’s about 10% to 15%. This means the efficiency of an overhead irrigation system is between 85% and 90%,” da Silva said. “But if you are a grower with drip irrigation where efficiency is about 95%, you’re just losing 5%. This means that 95% of the water applied will reach the root zone.

He added that with drip irrigation, producers should make more frequent applications during the day.

According to weather.com, temperatures are to remain near 90 degrees Fahrenheit for the rest of the week in Auburn, Ala. with minimal chance for rain through next week.

While all crops need some water to grow, some can tolerate water distress more than others.  

“Watermelon’s going to be a key one that growers must continue to keep irrigating. They should not allow any stress in tomatoes because tomatoes are very sensitive to water distress,” da Silva said.