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Publication #CV297

Chapter 3. Principles and Practices of Irrigation Management for Vegetables1

L. Zotarelli, M.D. Dukes, G.D. Liu, E.H. Simonne, S. Agehara2

Figure 1. 

This publication is included in the Vegetable Production Handbook fof Florida, 2015-2016 edition.


Peter J. Dittmar

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This is Chapter 3 of the Vegetable Production Handbook of Florida, 2016-2017 edition. The most current version of this chapter may be found at


This eight-page chapter covers:

  • Best Management Practices (BMP) for Irrigation

  • Uses of Irrigation Water

  • Irrigation Scheduling

  • Soil Water Holding Capacity and the Need to Split Irrigations


Table 1. Application efficiency for water delivery systems used in Florida.

Table 2. Levels of water management and corresponding irrigation scheduling method.

Table 3. Summary of irrigation scheduling guidelines for vegetable crops grown in Florida.

Table 4. Historical Penman method reference evapotranspiration (ETo) for six Florida regions expressed in (A) inches per day and (B) gallons per acre per day.

Table 5. Description of growth stages (plant appearance and estimated number of weeks) for most vegetable crops grown in the spring in Florida.

Table 6. Crop coefficient estimates for use with the ETo values in Table 4 and growth stages in Table 5 for unmulched crops. (Actual values will vary with time of planting, soil conditions, cultural conditions, length of growing season and other site-specific factors).

Table 7. Crop coefficient estimates (Kc) for use with ETo values in Table 4 and growth stages in Table 5 for selected crops grown in a plasticulture system.

Table 8. Maximum water application (in gallons per acre and in gallons/100lfb) in one irrigation event for various production systems on sandy soil (available water holding capacity 0.75 in/ft and 50% soil water depletion). Split irrigations may be required during peak water requirement.



This document is CV297, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Published June 2015. Revised June 2016. This is Chapter 3 of the Vegetable Production Handbook for Florida, 2016-2017 edition. Visit the EDIS website at


Lincoln Zotarelli, assistant professor, Horticultural Sciences Department; Michael D. Dukes, professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department; Guodong Liu, assistant professor, Horticultural Sciences Department; Eric H. Simonne, professor, Office of District Extension Directors; Shinsuke Agehara, assistant professor, Gulf Coast Research & Education Center; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.