Estimating Midday Leaf and Stem Water Potentials of Mature Pecan Trees from Soil Water Content and Climatic Parameters

Sanjit K. Deb, Manoj K. Shukla, John G. Mexal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Diurnal and temporal patterns of stem water potential (ψstem) and leaf water potential (ψleaf) were determined during June to Sept. 2010 and 2011 at lower (2.5 m tree height), mid- (4.6 m), and upper (7.6 m) canopy positions for two flood-irrigated, mature pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] orchards near Las Cruces, NM. Diurnal measurements of ψstem and ψleaf at three canopy heights were correlated under both dry and wet soil conditions. However, although soil water contents at Site 2 (silty clay loam texture) remained higher compared with Site 1 (sandy loam), ψstem and ψleaf values, particularly under dry soil conditions at Site 2, were consistently lower, showing the effect of clayey soil texture on pecan water stress. Diurnal patterns of ψstem and ψleaf indicated that measurements of ψstem and ψleaf should be made close to early afternoon (between 1400 and 1500 hr Mountain Standard Time) to evaluate mature pecan water stress, which also corresponded to maximum climatic stress conditions. Midday ψstem and ψleaf measured at three canopy heights over several irrigation cycles during the 2010 season were correlated with one another, midday soil water content at different depths, and atmospheric vapor pressure deficit (VPD). Multiple regression analysis [between midday ψstem or ψleaf and midday θavg (soil water content at 0 to 40 cm), air temperature (Tmd), and relative humidity (RHmd)] during the 2010 season revealed that two-parameter regression models [ψstem or ψleaf = f (midday θavg and Tmd)] were the most significant for the interpretation of midday ψstem or ψleaf at both sites. Using the two-parameter model, predictions of ψstem and ψleaf measured on the both shaded and sunlit sides of trees at three canopy heights for 2011 showed good agreement between measured and predicted ψstem and ψleaf (R2 ranged from 0.70 to 0.98). Two-parameter models derived in an earlier study generally underpredicted ψstem both in 2010 and 2011, which further supported the importance of the time of midday ψstem and ψleaf measurements suggested in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-916
Number of pages10
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2012


  • Carya illinoinensis
  • Leaf water potential
  • Plant water status
  • Soil texture
  • Stem water potential
  • Vapor pressure deficit


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