A prolonged dry spell across the Southeast should have citrus growers ensuring their young trees are properly irrigated. But Jonathan Oliver, University of Georgia (UGA) assistant professor and small fruits pathologist, cautions growers about applying too much water.
“The real young trees don’t have much of a root system, of course. It has been pretty dry. But you don’t want to overwater, though,” Oliver said. “That does lead to a whole host of other problems, root rots and things. Young trees do need a certain amount of water, and with small root systems, they’re going to need to be watered a little more regularly.”
Much of the dry conditions in the Southeast are expanding and intensifying, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The southeastern region of Georgia is mostly abnormally dry or moderately dry with some severely dry conditions along the Atlantic Coast. Southern counties in the Florida Panhandle are abnormally dry, as are a couple of Alabama counties along the Alabama-Georgia state line.
Oliver discussed other aspects of citrus management growers need to be mindful of this time of year.
“Some citrus trees are flushing a second time, so there’s a lot of these young, tender leaves out there. The real tender leaves are susceptible to leaf spot pathogens and leafminers, insects that causes damage to those new leaves and become a problem about now,” Oliver warned.
“The plants have bloomed out and have very young fruit. Some of that young fruit naturally just falls off the plant,” Oliver explained. “Growers should expect some level of those small, quarter or nickel size fruit to fall off. But if more are falling off, there are some diseases that can lead to that problem. Or if their trees are stressed in other ways — nutrient or water stress — it can also cause some of that fruit drop.”
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