This study examined the effects of different irrigation regimes on the growth and development of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. cv. Taoyuan ASVEG No.20) irrigated under a drip irrigation system. The experiment imposed water deficit at the initial (Trt4); developmental (Trt3); mid-season (Trt2); and the late stage of growth (Trt1) comparing the stages of growth to the fully irrigated control (Control), to indicate the stage most susceptible to water stress. The results showed that plant growth, fruit production and quality were significantly affected under different water applications. The treatments (Trts3 and 4) which underwent water deficit earlier in their growth stage showed a significant reduction in leaf chlorophyll content and plant height as compared to the other treatments. The effect on fruit production and quality as a consequence of a water deficit was apparent among all treatments. The mean number of fully formed fruits on Trts1, 2, 3 and 4 was 5.8, 7.7, 6.8 and 7.5 respectively. All of which were significantly lower than average of 11.6 fully formed fruits found on the Control. The application of the deficit irrigation approach in this study was both useful and appropriate in assessing the response of L. esculentum Mill under varying soil moisture.
Key words: Chlorophyll, deficit irrigation, drip irrigation, tomato, growth stage, water restriction.
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