University of California

Determining water needs for crops from climatic data


N. A. Halkias
F. J. Veihmeyer
A. H. Hendrickson

Authors Affiliations

Dr. Halkias was a member of the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, Greece. He did special research in the Department of Irrigation, University of California at Davis, during 1953-55; F. J. Veihmeyer was Professor of Irrigation, Emeritus, Experiment Station, Davis; A. H. Hendrickson was Pomologist in the Experiment Station, Davis.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 24(9):207-233. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v24n09p207. December 1955.

PDF of full article, Cite this article


The best measure of water use by crops is found by soil sampling to obtain the changes in soil moisture. Reproducible results are obtained by this method, if there is a long, rainless period during the growing season, and if the irrigations are far enough apart so that at least three samplings may be obtained between waterings.

The difference in evaporation between black and white atmometers has shown a high correlation with the use of water by crops and also with the solar radiation as measured by an Eppley pyrheliometer.

Loss of water from a given area is associated with the energy received from the sun, and the ground coverage of the plants as long as the soil moisture is above the permanent wilting percentage.

Rates of use of water by crops may vary from year to year, but if the ground coverage is equal, the use is the same in any given year in spite of the size of the individual plants. Large differences in loss of water by crops may occur if the coverage of the ground by the plants differs.

The correlation between evaporation from a white atmometer and from a standard United States Weather Bureau pan suggests that the former could be substituted for the latter for measurement of evaporation.

Literature Cited

Baver L. D. The meteorological approach to irrigation control. Hawaiian Planters Record. 1954. 54:291-98.

Blaney H. F. Consumptive use of water. Amer. Soc. Civ. Engin. Proc. 1951. 77(Separate No. 91):1-19.

Blaney H. F., Criddle W. D. Consumptive use and irrigation water requirements of crops in Colorado. 1949. Wash., D.C.: U. S. Dept. Agr., Div. Irrig. and Water Conservation, Soil Conservation Service. 55p.

Blaney H. F., Criddle W. D. Determining water requirements in irrigated areas from climatological and irrigation data. 1950. U. S. Dept. Agr., Div. Irrig. and Water Conservation, Soil Conservation Service. 44p. SCS-TP-96, Wash., D.C.

Blaney H. F., Ewing P. A. Irrigation practice and consumptive use of water in Pajaro Valley, California. 1949. Wash., D.C.: U. S. Dept. Agr., Div. Irrig. and Water Conservation, Soil Conservation Service. 62p. December. (Mimeo.)

Blaney H. F., Morin K. V. Evaporation and consumptive use of water empirical formulas. Amer. Geophys. Union Trans. Part. 1942. I:76-83. August DOI: 10.1029/TR023i001p00076 [CrossRef]

Blaney H. F., Rich L. R., Criddle W. D., Gleason G. B., Lowry R. L. Consumptive use of water. Amer. Soc. Civ. Engin. Trans. 1952. 117:948-1023.

Bkiggs L. J., Shantz H. L. Hourly transpiration rate on clear days as determined by cyclic environmental factors. Jour. Agr. Res. 1916a. 5(2):583-649.

Bkiggs L. J., Shantz H. L. Daily transpiration during the normal growth period and its correlation with weather. Jour. Agr. Res. 1916b. 7(4):155-212.

Criddle W. D. Consumptive use of water and irrigation requirements. Jour. Soil and Water Cons. 1953. 8(5):207-12. 243. September

Doneen L. D., Henderson D. W. Soil conditions affecting infiltration of water and root development. Amer. Soc. Sugar Beet Tech. Proc. 1952. pp.214-23.

Doneen L. D., Henderson D. W. Distribution of the roots in soil of some annual plants 1954. (Personal communication.)

Hargreaves A. H. Discussion on consumptive use. Amer. Soc. Civ. Engin. Trans. 1952. 117:968-71.

Kittridge J. Report of committee on transpiration and evaporation. Amer. Geophys. Union Trans. 1941. 22:906-15. DOI: 10.1029/TR022i003p00906 [CrossRef]

Lewis M. R., Work R. A., Aldrich W. W. Influence of different quantities of moisture in a heavy soil on rate of growth of pears. Plant Physiol. 1935. 10:309-13. DOI: 10.1104/pp.10.2.309 [CrossRef]

Livingston B. E. Atmometers of porous porcelain and paper, their use in physiological ecology. Ecology. 1935. XVI(3):438-72. DOI: 10.2307/1930079 [CrossRef]

Livingston B. E., Haasis F. The measurement of evaporation in freezing weather. Jour. Ecol. 1929. 17:315-28. DOI: 10.2307/2256045 [CrossRef]

Livingston B. E., Thorne F. A simplified non-absorbing mounting for porous atmometers. Science. 1920. 52:85-87. DOI: 10.1126/science.52.1334.85 [CrossRef]

Livingston B. E., Wilson J. D. Relation of vapor-pressure deficit to evaporation from a spherical atmometer in an air-conditioned room. Science. 1946. 104:487-88. DOI: 10.1126/science.104.2708.487 [CrossRef]

Lowry R. L., Johnson A. F. Consumptive use of water for agriculture. Amer. Soc. Civ. Engin. Trans. 1942. 107:1243-52.

Mather J. R. Micrometeorology of the surface layer of the atmosphere. Manual of Evapotranspiration. Supplement to Interim Report. 1950. 10: Seabrook, N.J.: The Johns Hopkins Lab. of Climatology. p. 1-29.

Mortensen E., Hawthorn L. R. The use of evaporation records in irrigation experiments with truck crops. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. Proc. 1934. 30:466-69.

Penman H. L. The dependence of transpiration on weather and soil conditions. Soil Sci. 1945. I:74-89.

Penman H. L. Natural evaporation from open water, bare soil and grass. Roy. Soc. London Proc., Series A. 1948. 193:120-45. DOI: 10.1098/rspa.1948.0037 [CrossRef]

Penman H. L. The physical bases of irrigation control. Thirteenth Internatl. Hort. Congress Report and Proc. 1952. II:913-24.

Piche Albert. “Note sur l’atmometre, instrument destinee a mesurer l’evaporation”. Bul. Assoc. Sci. France. 1873. 10:166-67. Sci. Pour Tous, Paris 17, 226. Ann. Sci. Indust. [Paris] 16: 58-60. Zeitschr. Oest. Ges. Met. 8: 270-71

Report of the Duty of Water Committee of the Irrigation Division. “Consumptive Use of Water in Irrigation”. Amer. Soc. Civ. Engin. Trans. 1930. 94:1349-99.

Schofield R. K. Soil moisture and evaporation. Fourth Internatl. Congress Soil Sci. Trans. 1950. 2:20-28.

Schofield R. K., Penman H. L. The principles governing transpiration by vegetation. Conf. Biol. and Civ. Engin. Proc. 1948. pp.75-98.

Thornthwaite C. W. The moisture-factor in climate. Amer. Geophys. Union Trans. 1946. 27:41-48. DOI: 10.1029/TR027i001p00041 [CrossRef]

Thornthwaite C. W. An approach toward a rational classification of climate. Geog. Rev. 1948. 38:55-94. DOI: 10.2307/210739 [CrossRef]

Thornthwaite C. W., et al. Report of the Committee on Evaporation and Transpiration. Amer. Geophys. Union Trans. 1944. 25:686-93.

Tomlinson B. R. Comparison of two methods of estimating consumptive use of water. Agr. Engin. 1953. 34:459-64.

Veihmeyer F. J. Some factors affecting the irrigation requirements of deciduous orchards. Hilgardia. 1927. 2(6):125-288. DOI: 10.3733/hilg.v02n06p125 [CrossRef]

Veihmeyer F. J. Evaporation from soils and transpiration. Amer. Geophys. Union Trans. 1938. 19:612-19. DOI: 10.1029/TR019i002p00612 [CrossRef]

Veihmeyer F. J. Use of water by native vegetation versus grasses and forbs on watersheds. Amer. Geophys. Union Trans. 1953. 34:201-12. DOI: 10.1029/TR034i002p00201 [CrossRef]

Veihmeyer F. J., Brooks F. A. Measurement of cumulative evaporation from bare soil. Amer. Geophys. Union Trans. 1954. 35:601-07. DOI: 10.1029/TR035i004p00601 [CrossRef]

Veihmeyer F. J., Hendrickson A. H. Soil density and root penetration. Soil Sci. 1948. 65:487-93. DOI: 10.1097/00010694-194806000-00006 [CrossRef]

Veihmeyer F. J., Hendrickson A. H. Methods of measuring field capacities and permanent wilting percentages of soils. Soil Sci. 1949. 68:75-99. DOI: 10.1097/00010694-194907000-00007 [CrossRef]

Veihmeyer F. J., Hendrickson A. H. Soil moisture in relation to plant growth. Plant Physiol. Ann. Rev. 1950. 1:265-304. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.pp.01.060150.001441 [CrossRef]

Veihmeyer F. J., Hendrickson A. H. Does transpiration decrease as the soil moisture decreases? Amer. Geophys. Union Trans. 1955. 36:425-28. DOI: 10.1029/TR036i003p00425 [CrossRef]

Veihmeyer F. J., Holland A. H. Irrigation and cultivation of lettuce. California Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 1949. 711:1-52. http://archive.org/details/essentialsofirri486veih

Wilson J. D. Evaporation studies III, ten years of evaporation at Wooster as measured with black and white atmometers. Ohio Agr. Exp. Sta. Bi-monthly Bul. 1939. 24(197):11-25.

Wilson J. D. An evaporation-index meter for use in irrigation practice. Ohio Agr. Exp. Sta. Bi-monthly Bul. 1940. 25(202):3-6.

Wilson J. D., Savage J. R. An evaporation survey of Ohio. Ohio Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 1936. 564:1-53.

Wilson J. D., Welton F. A. The use of an evaporation-index in watering lawns. Ohio Agr. Exp. Sta. Bimonthly Bul. 1935. 20(174):112-19.

Work R. A., Lewis M. R. The relation of soil moisture to permanent wilting in a heavy clay soil. Amer. Soc. Agron. Jour. 1936. 28:124-34. DOI: 10.2134/agronj1936.00021962002800020005x [CrossRef]

Halkias N, Veihmeyer F, Hendrickson A. 1955. Determining water needs for crops from climatic data. Hilgardia 24(9):207-233. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v24n09p207
Webmaster Email: wsuckow@ucanr.edu