The low desert region of Arizona is the major area of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) production in the United States during the winter. Lettuce is commonly grown on the loam, clay loam, and clay soils of the alluvial river valleys. There is some interest in moving a portion of the vegetable production onto the sandy soils of the terraces (mesa) above the alluvial river valley to partially relieve the intensive production pressure being placed on lands in the valley. Of major concern in these sandy soils is water and N management. Studies were conducted during two seasons to evaluate the response of crisphead lettuce to sprinkler irrigation and N fertilizer and to evaluate the potential for leaching of nitrate-N on a coarse-textured soil Lettuce yields increased in response to water and N, and were maximized by 55 cm of water and 271 kg · ha-1 N in 1991-92 and 76 cm water and 270 kg · ha-1 N in 1992-93. These water and N rates exceeded those typically required on finer-textured alluvial valley soils. At N and water rates required for maximum yields, 88% and 77% of the applied N was not recovered in the aboveground portions of the plant during the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons, respectively. Overall, data for the amount of N fertilizer not recovered, estimates of nitrate-N leaching determined during one growing season, and analysis of soil samples collected after harvest indicate the potential for large N leaching losses on this coarse-textured soil. Alternative production methods that enhance water and N use efficiencies, such as drip irrigation and/or the use of controlled-release fertilizers, should be considered on this sandy soil.
- Lactuca sativa
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