Growing Containerized Satsumas Under Screen

Ernie NeffCUPS, Research

satsumas

Trials of containerized satsuma trees grown in a screened facility will soon begin in Louisiana, reported Louisiana State University (LSU) AgCenter horticulture Extension agent Anna Timmerman. She discussed the trials during the recent virtual 2021 LSU AgCenter Citrus Symposium.

Research objectives include determining optimal planting density and yield. Field days for growers will likely be conducted in 2022, and a management guide will be produced for growers, Timmerman said.

Satsuma trees in the trial will be planted in air-pruning Smart Pots that eliminate the need for pruning and help to dwarf the trees. Satsumas grafted to a dwarfing rootstock will be grown in soilless media and fertilized and irrigated via fertigation. The satsumas will be planted at densities of 500, 1,000, 1,500 and 2,000 trees per acre.

It will take two or three years before fruit is picked from the trees, “but we can measure some things in the meantime that point toward prospective yield in the future,” Timmerman said. Researchers want to determine differences in yield between the containerized trees and field-grown trees, she said. Timmerman added that in similar citrus under protective screen trials conducted by University of Florida researchers, yield and fruit quality of Ruby Red grapefruit were better than for field-grown trees.

Timmerman said a question on the minds of Louisiana citrus growers and researchers is, “Is this an economical system? Is it profitable?” The containerized trials under screen should answer those questions, she said.

Photos and updates from the research trial, funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant, will be posted at the Louisiana Citrus growers Website. The site also provides resources for commercial growers.  

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large