UC Davis CA&ES

Photo by Diana Jahns

Edible Plants Management During Drought

Fruit and Nut Trees

Keeping fruit and nut trees alive during severe water shortages is also possible, although crop production may be greatly reduced.  To produce a good crop, deciduous fruit and nut trees need adequate water in their root zones continuously from bloom until harvest.  Citrus trees need adequate soil moisture during spring to set fruit and steady water in summer and fall to produce acceptable size, numbers, and quality of fruit.  For all fruit and nut trees experiencing a mild drought, reduction in irrigation may reduce crop yield.  In a severe drought, the amount of water available for irrigation may only be enough to keep trees alive and may not support a crop.


Vegetables are difficult to maintain during a drought. Know the critical watering periods for vegetables and target the timing and amount of water to add. As a rule of thumb, water is most critical during the first few weeks of seedling or young plant development, immediately after transplanting, and during flowering and fruit production.  Tomatoes, beans, and root crops such as carrots require regular watering and are not tolerant of long, dry periods. Vegetables such as squash and zucchini often fare better and can be kept alive with a few waterings once or twice a week through the season.  Alternatively, reduce water usage by planting fewer vegetables than usual.

Other plant types


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