Allowed Depletion

I emailed this question over to Rachio Support team and they told me ‘Flex is for advanced users, we suggest using the fixed schedules’ which wasn’t what I was expecting.

So, I’ll try here :wink:

I have brand new fruit trees, less than 2 months old now. It was watering them once every 6 days or so and I noticed that they weren’t looking so good. I started looking into the settings and noticed that if I adjust allowed depletion, it will water more often.

So, I got to thinking that if the roots aren’t very deep in these trees, we should be watering more. Am I wrong for thinking this? I changed it to 30% Allowed Depletion for now and it’s watering every 3-4 days which seems better, but wanted input from the community.


@optize - post pictures of your zone settings (root depth, soil type, etc.). Also there is a section of the community just for Flex Schedules. If you post there, I’m thinking that one of the several end-user Flex advanced users will chime in with suggestions.

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This should help you fine tune your flex schedule.
Management allowed depletion (MAD):
Increasing extends run time
Decreasing reduces run time
Increasing reduces watering frequency
Decreasing increases watering frequency

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Hey @optize-

I’m thinking we should move away from adjusting AD and actually adjust root zone depth instead since your trees are so young! I’m pretty sure @sunny has some fruit trees… any guesses on root depth for these youngins?

McKynzee :rachio:


What kind of tree are we talking about and in what part of the country?

As a general rule, new fruit trees should receive about a gallon of water every 7 days. They need to be deep watered and allowed to dry between waterings. Too much water and the leaves will turn yellow and drop. For trees this young, a fixed interval schedule should get them through the summer and help get them established.

When I first put that Rachio controller in service, I found that I was watering my cherry trees too often and backed off on the frequency. They are established trees–one is a seven-year-old tree, the other about five. They are currently on a fixed interval schedule and water once every 7 days for 55 minutes. They have produced well over the last couple of years.


I live in Phoenix. We have a apple, orange and mulberry tree.

Prior to changing my AD, the leaves all wrinkled up and if I touch them, they are crispy and will fall off. I assume that means not enough water, not too much.

Right now, they are watering for 1 hour, 10 minutes every 4 days with 2, 2GPH emitters.

@mckynzee, not to muddy the waters, but is there any difference between changing AD vs. root depth in the final analysis as long as (AW * root depth * AD) doesn’t change? Maybe I’m oversimplifying, but the way I look at Flex, this product is the number of inches Rachio waters and the number of inches that must leave the plant before it waters again. It’s nice to get the numbers right for sanity’s sake, of course, but I haven’t noticed any difference in Rachio’s behavior as long as the product of those values remains the same.

What are you using for your nozzle inches/hour?

Given the 70-minute run time, 90% efficiency, and 1.23" per run, I’m inferring @optize has a precipitation rate of 1.23" / (70/60 hours) / 1.06 = 1" per hour.

Schedule multiplier = 1 / (0.4 + 0.6 * 0.9) = 1.06

If I calculated correctly, I’d probably try a lower rate, @optize. I have 1 GPH drippers and use a rate of 0.25" per hour.

Gotcha. These 115+ temps are tough on even some established plants that are not desert adapted. My well-established citrus are showing some sun-burned leaves. In this heat, there is a point that no matter how much water is applied, the plant can’t take it up fast enough.

You might try to mitigate the damage of the afternoon sun by using shade cloth to help protect them. It appears that there is gravel around the trees in the photo. Try scraping the gravel back temporarily and applying a layer of mulch.

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Wow. Why bother buying a Rachio then? I bet @mckynzee would like to have a word with those crafting such a response. :fearful:

Not necessarily. Plants that are over-watered or under-watered exhibit similar symptoms: leaves yellow, curl, become dry/crispy and drop. Some plants wilt.

When soil is saturated and water displaces the air in the pore spaces in the soil, the root functions are compromised. Roots require oxygen and water for nutrient uptake. Plants that are exposed to long periods without oxygen exhibit signs of stress and decline.

I can’t say that is the situation. Most of us lean toward over-watering and all possibilities should be explored. @ldslaron’s suggestion of lowering the precipitation rate is a good one. Watering deeply and less frequently will encourage a healthy root system that has a better chance of getting the plant through the stress of the hot weather.


I’ve always use the rule of thumb that if new growth is yellowed, it’s over-watered. If older growth is yellowed, it is under-watered. This is a rule of thumb and not a hard and fast diagnosis, but has served me well…

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Or it’s just 120° outside and we are all suffering!:sweat_smile:

Well, I was going to elaborate and say that when it is 115+, throw that out the window because plants can get sunburns too!

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You know me too well. Already handled… :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

You are actually totally right. To be honest, this is my OCD kicking in. I rather keep all the variables aas accurate as possible, but ultimately, there is no functional difference in changing these two things!