Nutrition: What Growers Want to Know

Ernie NeffNutrition

nutrition
Growers and scientists make up the Citrus Research and Development Foundation’s new Nutrition Working Group.

A group of growers, production managers and researchers hopes to ensure future nutrition research funded by the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) answers grower questions about nutrition. The dozen-plus members of CRDF’s Nutrition Working Group held their first meeting Oct. 30 at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred. The panel is about evenly split between grower representatives and scientists with CRDF and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

CRDF Chief Operating Officer Rick Dantzler solicited input from virtually everyone in the working group during the first meeting.

Asked what he wanted from nutrition research, grower representative Buddy Strickland said, “They (growers) want to see things that they understand.” He said reviewing proposals written by researchers is often “like reading Chinese.” He suggested that scientists tell growers “what (to apply), how much and when.”

Other grower panelists discussed things they’d like to learn about nutrition, including its use in increasing fruit size, getting young trees to grow fast and increasing the amount of pound solids in fruit. One grower representative said he’d like to know how tissue and soil samples can help him make nutrition adjustments that improve trees and fruit in the current season.

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The Nutrition Working Group is not expected to be a long-standing committee. In his introductory remarks, Dantzler said he hoped its work would be done by the end of this year.

In the early days of HLB in Florida, much research was focused on control of HLB-spreading Asian citrus psyllids, a cure or solution for the disease, and the search for HLB-tolerant or resistant rootstocks and varieties. Those efforts continue, but many growers and researchers now believe that better nutrition and irrigation practices will help growers cope with the disease, at least in the short term. Scientists now know that HLB reduces a tree’s root system, and recommend more frequent fertilization and irrigation to help compensate for the root loss.

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About the Author
Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large