Rootstocks and Fertilization for Finger Limes

Josh McGillLimes, Nutrition, Rootstocks

Rootstock selection and fertilization are important for those considering growing finger limes in Florida. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences horticulturist Tripti Vashisth addressed both of those topics in a recent virtual Finger Lime Symposium.

Finger Limes
Four-year-old finger lime trees

Vashisth concluded that Volkamer lemon, UFR-5 and US-802 rootstocks appear promising for finger limes. She noted that a vigorous rootstock influences tree and fruit size. On the other hand, she singled out sour orange, C-22 and Cleo rootstocks for producing small trees. She said Swingle rootstock performance is average.

The rootstock/scion combination should be chosen carefully, and trees should be purchased from a certified nursery to ensure the grower is getting disease-free plant material, Vashisth advised. 

Finger limes are relatively new to Florida, noted Vashisth. She added that Florida has poor soils, so finger limes grown there will need good fertilization programs. Finger limes are tolerant of but not resistant to HLB. 

Finger Limes
Tripti Vashisth

Turning to fertilization, Vashisth said that finger limes have a high growth rate “which means that there’s a high nutrition requirement.” Finger limes will need a balanced and complete fertilization program, she said, adding, “It is best that we have a soil-applied program.” But she said that foliar sprays are also recommended because they influence fruit quality.

Vashisth recommended that finger lime growers focus on nitrogen because growing trees need good amounts of that nutrient. However, excessive nitrogen should be avoided because it can reduce fruit quality. Potassium sprays can help trees and improve fruit size, and potassium and calcium can improve peel integrity, she said.

Finally, good irrigation is critical for fruit size and improving fruit retention. Vashisth said drought stress should be avoided.

See the presentations from the virtual Finger Lime Symposium.

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