Nutrition Basics for North Florida Citrus Growers

Ernie NeffNutrition

nutrition

An article in the January Cold Hardy Citrus Connection newsletter offered basic nutrition management information for North Florida growers. It was written by Lisa Strange with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Taylor County Extension and Clay Olson, UF/IFAS Extension faculty, emeritus.

A grower’s first nutrient management consideration is to have a soil test, the authors stated. A soil test provides accurate information about what nutrients are present or lacking as well as the pH and salt levels. Test results provide guidelines and recommendations for what nutrients to apply. Keeping records of lab results will allow growers to see trends of changes that will help in tweaking applications if needed.

Their second suggested nutrient management consideration is to test the irrigation source annually. Issues in the water’s chemistry can be the root of problems such as systems plugging up from high calcium levels, salt intrusions and levels of pollutants.

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The authors suggested that a grower’s third consideration is to enroll in the Best Management Practices (BMP) Program through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Agricultural BMPs are practical measures that producers can take to reduce the amount of fertilizers, pesticides, animal waste and other pollutants that enter Florida’s water resources. They were designed to improve water quality and conserve water while maintaining and even increasing agricultural production.

Controlled-release fertilizers (CRF) and foliar applications were other nutrition topics addressed in the article. CRFs are time-released formulations that provide nutrient availability over 3-, 6- or 9-month time periods. CRFs have been found to be more efficient in saving energy and reducing environmental pollution while providing a continuous supply of nutrients. Foliar applications are highly concentrated sprays that are absorbed quickly through leaf surfaces. Foliar applications are helpful when root systems are inhibited, or during vegetative growth, fruit setting and fruit growth.

The authors suggested that growers attend seminars, field days and expos to obtain production information. They also recommended that growers refer to the UF/IFAS Electronic Data Information System (EDIS) website for current publications on citrus-related issues.  

Source: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

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