Irrigation and Nutrition Management in the Era of HLB

Ashley RobinsonIrrigation, Nutrition

irrigation

A solid nutrition and irrigation program can enhance the productivity of HLB-affected trees and improve citrus tree health, potentially making production profitable even under HLB conditions. This was the subject of Davie Kadyampakeni’s talk during a March 9 OJ Break virtual meeting held for citrus growers. Kadyampakeni is a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) assistant professor at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.

To improve the production of HLB-affected trees, nutrition, irrigation and soil-water balance should be considered simultaneously as each can influence the efficacy of the others, advised Kadyampakeni. He said it is also important to consider the age of the tree and disease severity to achieve optimal results.  

IRRIGATION RECOMMENDATIONS
Water is a limiting factor in Florida citrus production during the majority of the year since soils in citrus-producing regions throughout the state are mostly sandy soils with low water- and nutrient-holding capacities. Additionally, HLB-affected trees have a compromised root system, limiting their water uptake.

Soil moisture sensors can measure changes in soil water status and ensure the grower is irrigating the appropriate amount. According to Kadyampakeni, frequent irrigation in small doses ensures trees are not undergoing water-deficit stress.

Use of the Florida Automated Weather Network or SmartIrrigation app can also help growers make the right call on how much to irrigate their groves.

NUTRITION MANAGEMENT
In additional to proper irrigation, Kadyampakeni emphasized the importance of the four Rs of good nutrition of HLB-affected trees. Right rate, right time, right placement and right source of nutrient applications are critical for nutrient stewardship, he said.

Nutrient uptake efficiency of HLB-affected trees is limited. Therefore, making nutrients continuously available to the tree is beneficial. Leaf and soil analysis should be performed regularly to determine how much fertilizer to apply to avoid waste and optimize tree performance.

Nutrient recommendations and leaf and soil testing information can be found here.

To participate in upcoming UF/IFAS OJ Break meetings, register here.

About the Author

Ashley Robinson

Multimedia journalist