Bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria L.) crop response to different planting densities under both drip and widespaced furrow irrigation methods
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Although bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria L.) is an important vegetable crop in rural communities in the arid Mediterranean region, still no sufficient information regarding its cultivation practices is available. A two-year field experiment (2019 and 2020) was carried out to assess the effects of planting density and irrigation method on bottle gourd yield, following a split-plot experimental design with two planting densities of about 11 111 and 5555 plant ha–1 , and two irrigation methods (drip irrigation and wide-spaced furrows as surface irrigation), with three replicates. Significant effects of both factors on bottle gourd fruit characteristics, dry matter, fresh marketable yield, water productivity (WP), and irrigation water use efficiency (IWUE) were found. Seasonal evapotranspiration and irrigation water amounts were considerably reduced by about 20% under drip irrigation as compared with surface irrigation. Moreover, dry matter, fresh marketable yield, WP, and IWUE were doubled. Combining drip irrigation with the lower planting density was the most favourable practice for the bottle gourd crop productivity under the studied context. These findings of high fresh marketable yield and water productivity suggest that bottle gourd crop could be considered as an alternative crop for food security and economic prosperity of rural communities. Adopting drip irrigation can effectively address the water shortage issue and sustain crop production in the arid Mediterranean area.