Nutrition: Get the Rate Right

Ernie NeffNutrition


Davie Kadyampakeni emphasized the importance of the four Rs of good nutrition of HLB-affected orange trees, with a heavy focus on the “right rate” of nutrient use. The other three Rs are right time, right placement and right source of nutrient applications. Kadyampakeni, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher, discussed nutrition at this year’s virtual Citrus Expo.  

Addressing the right rate of micronutrients in his presentation, Kadyampakeni stated that, “You can put … double the current recommendations but not exceeding four times.” He said he and fellow researchers “have concluded that good nutrient management is critical for promoting tree performance, including denser canopies, high yields and leaf area indices under HLB conditions.”

“If growers would like to maintain high yields, it would be good to make sure that you are putting all nutrients at optimal levels,” Kadyampakeni said. “For micronutrients, you can give a bump to make sure that you get the right response in the trees to make sure you can have better root re-growth and better canopy.”

Kadyampakeni added that the right nutrient rate helps avoid toxicity to the plant and nutrient deficiencies.

Kadyampakeni also addressed some of the other “rights” in nutrient management. Right placement, for instance, includes putting the fertilizer within the root zone, and close to the tree. Right source includes solubility and availability of nutrients.

Like numerous other scientists in recent years, Kadyampakeni stressed the importance of balanced nutrition “spoon fed … throughout the year.” This emphasis on frequent nutrient application through irrigation systems, called fertigation, is in contrast to the common pre-HLB practice of applying fertilizer to the soil only a few times a year.   

In addition, Kadyampakeni’s presentation included in-depth discussions of several nutrients, including potassium, nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, boron and manganese.

View his full presentation here. The presentation, and the continuing education units available to those who watch it, will remain online through the end of 2020.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large