Guayule growth and yield responses to deficit irrigation strategies in the U.S. desert

Diaa Eldin M. Elshikha, Guangyao Wang, Peter M. Waller, Douglas J. Hunsaker, David Dierig, Kelly R. Thorp, Alison Thompson, Matthew E. Katterman, Matthew T. Herritt, Eduardo Bautista, Dennis T. Ray, Gerard W. Wall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Deficit irrigation can maximize the water productivity (WP) of guayule and increase the percent rubber (%R) in shrubs compared to irrigation meeting full crop evapotranspiration (ETc). In this study, we hypothesize that certain deficit irrigation strategies that impose soil water deficits during specific periods of growth or throughout the growing season might produce higher %R and equivalent rubber yield (RY), thereby, increasing WP compared to full irrigation. Herein, growth and yield responses of direct-seeded guayule to different water deficit schemes were evaluated in an experiment on a silty clay loam soil, in a field in central Arizona using furrow irrigation. Two guayule cultivars (AZ2 and AZ6) were grown for 22.5 months (Apr. 2020-Mar. 2022) in a split-plot design, with six irrigation treatments in whole plots and cultivars in split-plots. After homogeneous irrigation for two months, irrigation treatments were begun. A control treatment was irrigated to meet full ETc. The other five treatments were irrigated with less water using various deficit irrigation strategies imposed during the two-year growing period. Measurements included plant height (h), cover fraction (fc), soil water contents, harvest of dry biomass (DB), RY, resin yield (ReY), %R, and percent resin (%Re). Total water applied (TWA) by irrigation and precipitation to treatments varied from 2780 to 1084 mm and DB varied from 20.5 to 9.1 Mg ha−1. The h and fc were significantly greater at higher irrigation levels, while they were also significantly greater in AZ6 than AZ2. The DB, RY, and ReY generally increased linearly with TWA. However, it was found that a treatment applying every other irrigation of the control resulted in statistically equivalent yields to the control, with 36% less irrigation. The %R generally decreased with TWA, while %Re did not change. However, DB, %R, and %Re were significantly greater for AZ2 than AZ6, as were RY, ReY, and WP. Among the deficit treatments evaluated, every other irrigation offers the best strategy to significantly increase guayule WP without causing a yield penalty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108093
JournalAgricultural Water Management
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023


  • Crop coefficient
  • Evapotranspiration
  • Rubber
  • Soil water
  • Water productivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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