Modeling of PAR Interception and Productivity of a Prickly Pear Cactus, Opuntia ficus-indica L., at Various Spacings
- Victor García de Cortázar and
- Park S. Nobel
Opuntia ficus-indicu L. is a prickly pear cactus composed morphologically of flattened stems (cladodes). It is cultivated worldwide for fruit or forage, generally in plantations at low plant densities. A model developed for simulating light interception by each cladode at any plant density was used to simulate the effect of plant morphology on production of dry matter. Different plant structures and cladode orientations leading to high stem area indices (SAI; total surface area of stems per unit ground area) were tested to maximize Productivity, while maintaining the crop within limits of size and spacing compatible with practical management techniques. Results indicate that productivities 40% greater than those observed in the field and similar to certain other row crops can be obtained by increasing SA1 up to 4.0 for plants that are five cladodes tall. for much greater SAIs, crops become very dense with no significant increase in productivity. For whole plants at low SAIs and for top cladodes at all SAIs, higher productivity occurred for cladodes facing east-west. However, at high plant densities row direction and orientation of individual cladodes had little effect on productivity, although plants with their cladodes facing north-south tended to have a higher productivity. The simulations presented can aid in the design of field trials for productivity studies of O. ficus-indicu and other cultivated platyopuntias.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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