Making Sense of Biologicals: Improve Fruit Size and Quality

Tacy CalliesBiostimulants, MSOB

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Citrus growers need as many tools in their toolbox as possible. With the Florida citrus industry decimated in recent years, mainly due to citrus greening disease, growers are exploring all options to help them succeed.

CYAN 365®, a biostimulant from C Green Ag Biotechnology, is one tool that has proven to help enhance the quality and size of citrus crops, namely oranges and grapefruit, according to Mike Edenfield, a field scientist at Florida AgCo. In various research trials, he found that CYAN 365® improves the size of Hamlin and Valencia oranges.

“The biggest benefit that I’ve seen from CYAN 365® is increasing the fruit size, the main benefit to the grower. That’s primarily why most of the fresh fruit growers see a nice benefit from the product,” Edenfield says.

BETTER BRIX
“With an increase in fruit size, what we’re also doing is increasing the Brix levels in the fruit,” adds Edenfield.

Brix refers to the measure of the total soluble solids (TSS) that are present in any fruit. This can include citrus, watermelons, strawberries, etc. Sugars comprise those soluble solids. When Edenfield refers to CYAN 365® increasing the Brix levels in the fruit, he means the product is increasing the natural sugar content that is available for consumption. More sugar means a sweeter, better flavor.

“We’ve seen both an increase in fruit size and an increase in pound solids. You’re not only expanding that fruit, but you’re also expanding or increasing the sugar content,” says Edenfield. “I think in fresh fruit, the use of CYAN 365® is really a no-brainer. I believe that most fresh fruit acres can benefit from the product.”

Research supports Edenfield’s opinion. In trying to prove the economics of CYAN 365® in juice oranges — whether producers benefit financially by adding this product to their input cost portfolio — Edenfield looked at various rates. He tested rates of 16 ounces and 32 ounces at different points in the production season — pre-bloom, full bloom, post-bloom and in the fall.

In the study, Hamlins yielded an additional 369 pounds per acre, more than 31 additional boxes per acre, 27% less fruit drop and 18% more fruit count. Valencias yielded 398 more pounds per acre, 54 more boxes per acre and 18.2% more fruit count.

LESS DROP, BIGGER FRUIT
It’s worth noting there was less premature fruit drop in the Hamlin study. According to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), post-bloom fruit drop affects all species and cultivars of citrus. But its severity varies due to a couple of factors, namely time of bloom and rainfall. Navel and Valencia oranges have experienced the most damage in Florida.

CYAN 365® helps synchronize the harvest timing. Because of this, it tends to keep fruit on the tree longer. The product rejuvenates the tree, speeding up the maturing process and keeping the stems healthier.

A lot of products that are available on the market are focused on helping with fruit set, providing more fruit instead of making the fruit sweeter and more desirable for the consumer. The increased sweetness is where CYAN 365® is an effective tool for the Florida citrus producer.

“We don’t really need to set more fruit on the tree. An orange tree, or a citrus tree in general, sets plenty of fruit on its own. What we’re trying to do with the fruit that the tree sets is increase those fruit sizes as soon as possible,” Edenfield explains. “The sooner you can start that process, the better your yield is going to be and the larger your fruit size is going to be. Regardless of the trees and the grower production program, we’ve always seen a positive benefit from CYAN 365® in increasing the fruit size and increasing sugar content.”

Citrus greening affects citrus production around the world. The disease affects all cultivars and causes tree decline. According to Edenfield, one of the problems with citrus greening is the stem dieback, which hastens ripening. But growers need to balance the ripening process, so the fruit does not ripen too fast. That is where the effectiveness of a natural product like CYAN 365® is valuable. Producers can keep the fruit on the tree longer, which is a benefit to helping with fruit drop.

Growers should not be surprised if CYAN 365® increases the amount of fruit in their grove. However, research showed that more fruit occurred mostly in well-managed groves. A better maintained grove often led to higher yields.

GROWING INTEREST
CYAN 365® is a seaweed biostimulant that is one part of the biologicals sector of agriculture.

Various reasons have contributed to the rise in popularity of the biologicals market. The world’s population continues to balloon, surging from 6.1 billion people in 2000 to today’s figure of 7.8 billion people. An increased world population means more mouths to feed and greater dependence on growers to be more innovative in trying to meet that need.

Sustainability is also an issue of importance as citrus growers contend with pests, diseases and international imports. Faced with these dynamics, growers need all the help they can get to maximize their production.

Biostimulants can be used to supplement normal chemical applications. Seaweed is the most popular biostimulant. Seaweed extracts comprise more than 33% of the total biostimulant market, which is expected to reach a value of $894 million euros in 2022.

“It is certainly one of the well-known trusted products if you’re looking for a biostimulant or soil amendment,” says University of California Cooperative Extension Entomology and Biologicals Advisor Surendra Dara. “Seaweed is a micro-organism. It contains fatty acids, amino acids and several other compounds that stimulate the plant growth. It also stimulates several physiological processes. That is probably the reason it is used for multiple purposes, although, mainly as a biostimulant.”

These compounds are contained in CYAN 365®. The product’s natural active compounds will also increase the efficacy of fungicides. The result is improved quality of production by compensating for the adverse effects of diseases such as citrus greening, citrus canker, melanose and greasy spot.

See the C Green Ag Biotechnology website at cgreenag.com/products/CYAN-365. Growers will find U.S. agronomic data on CYAN 365® on the website.

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Clint Thompson

Clint Thompson