HLB Brings Nutrition Guideline Changes

Ernie NeffHLB Management, Nutrition

An updated nutrition guide from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) provides new information for properly fertilizing HLB-impacted trees. Nutrition of Florida Citrus Trees, 3rd Edition was updated by researchers Kelly Morgan and Davie Kadyampakeni.

Morgan, director of the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, says growers have been requesting an update of the guide for several years. “This publication was originally published in about 1996 by a group of faculty at UF that are now retired,” Morgan says. “Tom Obreza and I did the second edition, or the first update of the publication, in 2008.” He notes that the second edition was published a few years after HLB’s 2005 discovery in Florida. “We wanted to wait a period of time (after the finding of HLB) to give the most appropriate update,” he says. He explains that it took some time “to really understand what the disease did to the trees and how they reacted.”  

Researchers “kept the majority of the information that was in the 2008 publication because all of that information on soil sampling, leaf tissue analysis and so forth is still valid,” Morgan says. They added new information learned about nutrition since 2008. “Nutrition has become a key practice for the growers to maintain their trees and maintain productivity,” he says.

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“What we have found (since the last update in 2008) is that minor nutrients, primarily zinc, iron, boron and particularly manganese … are very important to the trees,” Morgan says. Researchers now recommend applying the minor nutrients more frequently, versus the former production practice of applying those nutrients once a year or so, he says. 

Irrigation recommendations have also been adjusted in the new nutrition publication, Morgan says. “We recommend to growers that they irrigate much more often with smaller amounts of water,” he says. That so-called “spoon feeding” of irrigation improves water uptake of trees with roots diminished by HLB.

Nutrition of Florida Citrus Trees, 3rd Edition can be accessed here. Morgan says a number of copies will also be printed and distributed to growers at future industry events.

Click here for more UF/IFAS information about how constant nutrient supply can improve the health and productivity of HLB-affected trees.  

This interview with Morgan is part of the May All In For Citrus Podcast, a joint venture of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media. Listen to the full podcast.

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About the Author
Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large