Approximately 110 Florida citrus growers picked up nutrition sampling kits they’ll use to help ensure their groves are receiving proper nutrition this season. The kits are part of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Citrus Nutrition Management Program launched this fall. The kits provide growers everything they need to collect four leaf samples and one soil sample during the 2019–20 season.
UF/IFAS horticulturist Tripti Vashisth provides an update on the program, which includes nutrition recommendations based on the sampling. Vashisth works at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.
She says the sampling program was funded by money the Florida Legislature designated to help the state’s citrus industry, which has suffered mightily due to HLB and 2017’s Hurricane Irma.
Vashisth says she and other UF/IFAS researchers are working on nutrition recommendations based on the first set of sampling results. She says growers will be asked if they followed the recommendations. “We really need to know if we ask them to apply X amount of zinc, did they apply it or not,” she says. That’s so researchers can determine whether following their recommendations improves nutrition levels in the next round of sampling. If improvement isn’t seen, she says, “Then we have to get to the root of the problem.”
The program is “a true collaboration between growers and the university” with the growers submitting samples and researchers offering recommendations based on the samples, Vashisth says.
In recent years, many Florida growers battling HLB have found that complete nutrition programs and more frequent fertilizer applications have helped them improve tree health and yields. More frequent irrigation has also proved to be helpful in the HLB era.
This interview with Vashisth is featured in the current episode of the All In For Citrus podcast, a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media.
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