University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher Davie Kadyampakeni offers water and nutrient management tips for HLB-affected trees. He was a presenter at a recent citrus nutrient management seminar in Immokalee hosted by multi-county citrus Extension agent Mongi Zekri. The seminar drew approximately 60 people to the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center.
Kadyampakeni’s tips include irrigating daily, maintaining proper pH levels, fertigating and improving drainage systems.
“We would like to encourage growers to irrigate daily,” Kadyampakeni says. He explains that daily irrigation keeps water in the root zone. “And that way you improve tree performance, tree growth and also production,” he says.
He also encourages management of soil and water pH levels. He says if pH is either too high, for example above 8, or too low, below 5, uptake of nutrients is limited. He suggests that pH levels between 5.5 and 7 are best for maximizing nutrient uptake.
Kadyampakeni notes that many growers are fertigating, or providing nutrients through the irrigation system. “Since most of the trees lose a lot of roots, it’s important that most growers use fertigation to make sure the trees get adequate nutrients available in time for uptake,” he says.
“Growers would be OK to reduce their irrigation times” on HLB-affected trees, which take up less water, the researcher says. Many could cut irrigation times from an hour to 50 minutes “without affecting any tree performance and yield,” he says.
Finally, Kadyampakeni suggests that growers work on their drainage systems. He explains that immediately following September’s Hurricane Irma, water stood in many groves for days, causing root damage and tree death.
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