The objective of a new study published in HortScience was to evaluate and understand the nutrient uptake potential of citrus rootstocks. Conducted by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) researchers, it is one of the first citrus studies to report nutrient uptake efficiency and the potential of rootstocks. The information presented in the study can be used to select better-performing rootstocks under HLB conditions.
By understanding the nutrient uptake potential of rootstocks, fertilizer programs can be customized accordingly to enhance the performance of a rootstock in existing groves. Moreover, a reduction in the application of nutrients is possible by planting rootstocks with a high nutrient absorption capacity. Use of rootstocks with good nutrient uptake efficiency can take some burden off the growers who are intensively managing HLB-affected citrus groves.
Field validation is still required to strengthen the study results because this was a potted hydroponic experiment. Nevertheless, the research team demonstrated that rootstocks should be selected after considering the soil nutrient status and equally emphasizing the nutrient uptake potential and absorption efficiency of roots.
“This study was undertaken as we learn that enhanced plant nutrition can improve the productivity of HLB-affected citrus trees,” said Tripti Vashisth, UF/IFAS associate professor and citrus Extension specialist. “Several new citrus rootstocks have been introduced to Florida citrus growers in the last decade. However, not much is known about them. Therefore, with this research, we were aiming to understand if rootstocks differ in nutrient uptake. If so, then growers need to customize fertilization programs based on rootstock. Moreover, rootstocks with high nutrient uptake may have higher tolerance to HLB.”
The six rootstocks used in the experiment were Swingle citrumelo, UFR-4, UFR-17, US- 896, 46×20–04 and A+Volk × Orange 19-11-8.
A+Volk × Orange 19-11-8 rootstock showed the highest nutrient uptake efficiency, whereas US-896 showed the lowest. UFR-4 had a large root biomass, but the nutrient efficiency was poor, suggesting that the nutrient uptake potential is a complex process that is not solely dependent on root biomass.
The primary scientist of this study was Lushan Ghimire, a Ph.D. student studying blueberry breeding at the University of Florida. Vashisth and UF/IFAS Professor Jude Grosser were co-authors of the report on the study.
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