Withholding water at specific times when fruit growth is not adversely affected is termed regulated deficit irrigation and can be an effective dwarfing technique in arid growing areas. Research shows that regulated deficit irrigation reduces vegetative growth of peach, pear, and apple. A reduction in water availability affects tree water status or water potential (the free energy of water that is potentially available to do work relative to pure water) and results in water stress.
Water stress reduces turgor pressure that is directly related to cell expansion. Changes in turgor pressure also affect other physiological processes that lead to reduced growth. During periods of water stress, a greater percentage of assimilates are partitioned to roots, leaving less for shoot growth.
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