Rhuanito “Johnny” Ferrarezi, a new citrus horticulture scientist at the Indian River Research and Education Center near Fort Pierce, discusses his research plans. “I’m going to be focusing on irrigation, plant nutrition and cultural practices to improve our current practices and try to maximize plant survival under greening conditions,” he says. Most of his attention will be on Indian River grapefruit.
Ferrarezi explains the approach he will take to irrigation. “I primarily want to use moisture sensors to control the amount of water that is being applied and then trigger decisions or perhaps the entire irrigation system automatically using those sensors connected to controllers,” he says.
Turning to nutrition, Ferrarezi notes that “people have been trying different products” to help cope with HLB. He will try to scientifically determine which nutrients play a role in HLB management. Ferrarezi will also try to determine if some nutrients work because bacteria are negatively impacted by nutrients or because nutrition is increasing plant production. “We don’t have much scientific information to back this up,” he says. “However, growers are still using lots of fertilizers and nutritional programs, and everyone has their own program. And the fertilizer companies are also trying some magic bullets to fix the problem.”
Ferrarezi also will work with grapefruit planted under screening, known as the citrus undercover production system. “My goal is to put several varieties under screen to maximize the potential of growing citrus indoors,” he says.
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