Water Use by and Salinity Effects Upon Trickle Irrigated Grape Production in the Southern Basin and Range Province of New Mexico
Irrigated agriculture in the Southwest depends upon the continued availability of good quality water. Recent increases in the cost of pumping have prompted many growers to consider planting high value crops such as wine grapes. Recent advances in irrigation technology, particularly trickle irrigation, may make production of quality fruit possible with ground water reserves of limited availability or poor quality. No regional guidelines exist to assist the potential grower in locating and establishing vineyards based on the water resources present. Field trials were conducted to provide information necessary for the formulation of such guidelines.
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in a trickle irrigated commercial vineyard in southern New Mexico were irrigated with water of three salinities (350, l000, and 1500 mg/l TDS). Grapes receiving the 350 mg/l water were irrigated with volumes representing 60, 80, l00, and 120 percent of predicted evapotranspiration. Consumptive use of water by the vines was estimated from lysimeter water balance data.
Our results indicate grapes may be produced with no more than 500 mm of water per year of which nearly half may be expected in the form of precipitation. Soil solution salinity levels in vine root zones were not found to be significantly greater than that of the applied irrigation water. Fruit production of acceptable quality was obtained from vines irrigated with water of all salinity levels tested.