University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) researchers have found that following nutrition and irrigation guidelines designed for a specific grove will help growers promote tree health and produce high-quality citrus.
Last year, UF/IFAS scientists offered Florida growers a unique nutritional counseling program, commonly referred to as the nutrition box program. It provides free soil and leaf testing as well as tailored quarterly nutritional counseling.
Tripti Vashisth, UF/IFAS assistant professor of horticultural sciences and citrus Extension specialist, gave an update on the nutrition box program during the Feb. 9 UF/IFAS OJ Break grower meeting.
According to Vashisth, the program has yielded great results. Soil and leaf sampling allows scientists to make better, tailored nutrient recommendations to improve overall tree vigor.
The data Vashisth presented indicates high boron levels are present throughout Florida, but no toxicity reports have been recorded yet. Additionally, program data reveals that some growers are over-implementing acidification treatments. To best monitor acidification levels, growers should constantly monitor soil pH levels in their groves. Optimal soil pH is 5.8 to 6.5.
Furthermore, data shows leaf manganese and zinc levels seem to take a dip across the state from the fall through spring. According to Vashisth, growers should regularly monitor their nutrient levels throughout the year for optimal results.
UF/IFAS is accepting new registrations for the nutrition counseling program. Growers wanting to participate in the program must have groves that are a sweet orange variety, 5 years or older, and have a minimum of 5 acres. The deadline to register is Feb. 15. Growers new to the program can register to participate here.
If you are a grower currently participating in the program and wish to continue, you should have received an email with a link to confirm participation for the 2021-22 season. It is important to respond to that email by Feb. 15.
For questions about the nutrition box program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.