The partitioning of evapotranspiration in apple orchards from planting until full-bearing age and implications for water resources management
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Orchard evapotranspiration (ET) is a complex flux which has been the subject of many studies. It often includes transpiration from the trees, cover crops and weeds, evaporation from the soil, mulches, and other orchard artefacts. Studies of evapotranspiration in orchards often quantify tree water use and soil evaporation, treating the water use from the understorey vegetation on the orchard floor as negligible. Therefore, there is a paucity of information; first about the water use of cover crops in general, and secondly about the contribution of cover crops to whole orchard ET. This information is important, especially in semi-arid regions like South Africa where water resources are already under great strain and the situation is predicted to worsen in future due to climate change.