Evaluating regulated deficit irrigation in cider apple orchards for improved water use efficiency, reduced labor input, and improved fruit quality

Irrigation efficiency is a priority for sustainable orchard management. Regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) is a management strategy that has been shown to conserve water, reduce vegetative growth and pruning costs, reduce leaching of agrochemicals into groundwater, and improve fruit quality attributes. In apple specifically, fruit quality effects of RDI have included reduced fruit size and weight loss during storage, and increased fruit firmness, dry matter content, total soluble solids, and aromatics. All of these effects are desirable to cider apple growers who want small firm fruit that are easy to press, that can be stored post-harvest until processing, and are more concentrated with sugar, polyphenols, and aromatics. By reducing irrigation usage, it may be possible to produce a more desirable, complex fruit while conserving a critical natural resource. This project will support sustainable growth in the regional cider industry by assessing the impact of RDI on water use efficiency, tree vegetative growth, fruit yield and quality, and fruit processing in comparison to standard commercial irrigation.

Grant Information

  • Project ID: 185
  • Project Status: Complete


  • Principal Investigator(s): Miles, C.
  • Investigator(s): LaHue, G.
  • Grant Amount: $39,200



Summary report available at cider.wsu.edu/rdi/