About Us | Help Videos | Contact Us | Subscriptions

Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Salinity, Boron, and Irrigated Pecan Productivity along New Mexico's Rio Grande Basin


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 29 No. 3, p. 955-963
    Received: July 9, 1999

    * Corresponding author(s): gpicchio@nmsu.edu
Request Permissions

  1. G. A. Picchioni *,
  2. H. Karaca,
  3. L. G. Boyse,
  4. B. D. McCaslin and
  5. E. A. Herrera
  1. Dep. of Agronomy and Horticulture, Box 30003, New Mexico State Univ., Las Cruces, NM 88003.
    Soil Science Dep., Mustafa Kemal Univ., Serinyol-Hatay 31000 Turkey.



We surveyed 15 commercial irrigated orchards of ‘Western’ pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] along a 120-km stretch of the middle Rio Grande basin in southern New Mexico. Our intent was to determine if high salinity and boron (B) broadly threaten pecan cultivation in this region. Ten of the fifteen sites were found to be on soils considered too saline for pecan trees (>2–3 dS m−1 in the soil saturation extract of the upper 0–60 cm of soil depth). Of these 10 sites, 4 had saturation extract Na concentration exceeding 20 mM, which is at or about the concentration corresponding to pecan seedling rootstock growth suppression. A laboratory study showed that cell membranes of excised, subapical seedling root segments from ‘Riverside’ pecan were damaged by about twice the salinity of the saturation extract at the highest salinity sites (9 dS m−1). At all sites, midsummer leaflet B concentration surpassed the published accepted range for pecan of about 50 to 100 mg B kg−1 dry weight, especially at the sites with higher soil salinity. Evaluation of two nearby sites (low salinity and B and high salinity and B orchards) showed that the higher salinity and B were associated with 25% lower yield efficiency, 3% lower percentage kernel, 13% lower mass per nut, and a 9 to 16% reduction in the tree's capacity to recycle N and P into perennial storage organs. The findings bring attention to the sustainability of current irrigation and soil management practices in much of this concentrated pecan producing region.

This work was supported by a grant from the Oak Ridge Associated Universities Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards Program to G.A. Picchioni (award #97-321) and by the New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station.

  Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.

Copyright © .