Increased water scarcity necessitates the implementation of water-conserving irrigation management practices to sustain crop production,especially in water-limited areas. A two-year field study was conducted during 2019 and 2020 to evaluate the effect of deficit irrigation on physiology, plant growth, and yield of cucumber cultivars. The experiment was conducted in a split-plot design with four irrigation levels (100% ETc (crop evapotranspiration), 80% ETc, 60% ETc, and 40% ETc) as main plot factor and two cultivars (Poinsett 76 and Marketmore 76) as subplot factor with three replications. Results showed that stomatal conductance (gs), transpiration rate (E), photosynthesis rate (Pn), intercellular CO2 concentration (Ci), and leaf area were significantly lower in 60% ETc and 40% ETc compared to 100% ETc while stomatal limitations, intrinsic water use efficiency (WUEi), and relative leaf temperature were significantly higher in 60% ETc and 40% ETc compared to 100% ETc. The observed values of these aforementioned parameters were comparable between 100% ETc and 80% ETc. A decrease in leaf area, as well as a decrease in Pn, resulted in a decline in overall photosynthesis per plant in 60% ETc and 40% ETc compared to 100% ETc. As a consequence of this, plant dry biomass and total fruit yield were significantly lower in 60% ETc and 40% ETc compared to 100% ETc. However, photosynthesis per plant was comparable between 100% ETc and 80% ETc due to comparable Pn and leaf area between them. Because of comparable photosynthesis per plant, plant dry biomass and fruit yield were comparable between 100% ETc and 80% ETc. Marketmore 76 had significantly higher gs, E, Pn, Ci, and leaf area and it had significantly lower stomatal limitations, WUEi, and relative leaf temperature than Poinsett 76. Vegetative dry biomass and total above-ground dry biomass were higher in Marketmore 76 but fruit yield was higher in Poinsett 76. These results suggest that 80% ETc irrigation level and Poinsett 76 cultivar can be recommended for successful cucumber production without causing a significant decline in fruit yield in water-limited Southern High Plains of United States.
- Deficit irrigation
- Intrinsic water use efficiency
- Leaf area
- Photosynthesis rate
- Stomatal limitations