Manage Soil pH and Nutrition for HLB

Ernie NeffHLB Management

Kelly Morgan

Growers with trees affected by HLB should try to maintain soil pH in the 6 to 6.5 range, Kelly Morgan told numerous growers attending a recent Citrus Nutrition Day event. Morgan is director of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ (UF/IFAS) Southwest Florida Research and Education Center.

Morgan explained that soil pH affects trees’ ability to uptake nutrients, “particularly micronutrients — manganese, zinc and others that we know are usually deficient in HLB trees. The solubility of those nutrients are dependent on the soil pH.”

Bicarbonates in irrigation water lead to higher soil bicarbonates and pH. The standard treatment for reducing the water’s pH is to add an acid. The most common acids to inject are sulfuric acid and phosphoric acid.  

“We are still looking at other factors about micronutrients and even some of the macronutrients, magnesium and calcium particularly,” Morgan said. “These are always going to be something that we need to look at in greening trees. We have some research going on now looking at different application methods, amounts and timing.”

Three other UF/IFAS researchers made presentations at Nutrition Day. Additionally, two Florida citrus growers shared their nutrition experiences via videos shown during the program.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large