The Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference held in Savannah in early January included a session on citrus production to educate growers. Kelly Morgan, professor of soil fertility and water management with the University of Florida, spoke to attendees about newly updated production guides and their relationship to plant nutrition and HLB.
Morgan noted that the third edition of the Nutrition of Florida Citrus Trees publication was released in 2020 with updated information on how fertilizer recommendations have been impacted by HLB. Most of the nutrition recommendations for citrus were developed before the disease came to Florida 15 years ago. He said those recommendations are still good, but for healthy trees only. New recommendations are being developed to account for the influences of HLB.
“We have the yearly citrus nutrition guide we are now producing,” Morgan said. “The state’s best management practices (BMP) program will be based on this guide.”
The BMPs had been based on the larger Florida Citrus Production Guide, which touches on all phases of citrus production.
“I talked about (during the conference) the research projects we’ve conducted over the past 15 years relative to nutrients and HLB and that we need to change our recommendations for HLB-affected trees only,” Morgan said. “This is going to be a change for the University’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS). We feel the current recommendations are still adequate for healthy trees. We just need to add a little more fertilizer for HLB-affected trees in some cases.”
Morgan also spoke of a new task he’s been assigned to tackle at IFAS. “A year ago, we put together a proposal to the legislature to conduct field-scale recalibration of Mehlich 3 recommendations for phosphorous, primarily, and potassium and others. We have had instances where growers have had issues with our current calibration of Mehlich 3. We wanted to look at that and needed a funding source, so we put together a proposal for the last legislative session in 2021. We received funding, so we are now in the process of doing the recalibration work in tomatoes and potatoes. That is going along extremely well. We are getting some very good information. We have been asked to include citrus in the next round of funding, which we will hopefully receive in the 2022 legislative session. That work will start in July of this year.”
Mehlich 3 refers to a method of interpreting soil test analysis.
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