Nutrition and Irrigation Role Reinforced for HLB Trees

Josh McGillIrrigation, Nutrition

In a virtual seminar for growers on July 19, Davie Kadyampakeni reinforced that optimal, balanced nutrition and frequent irrigation can improve HLB-affected citrus trees, yield and fruit. Kadyampakeni is a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) associate professor at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.

Davie Kadyampakeni specializes in citrus nutrient and water management.

“Citrus fruit yields, juice quality and canopy size and development are enhanced with a balanced nutrition approach,” Kadyampakeni declared. Some of his other key observations about nutrition included the following points:

  • Root health and overall plant health and immunity are strengthened with elevated rates of macronutrients and micronutrients compared to current recommendations.
  • Disease mitigation and optimal nutrition work together and not in isolation.
  • With macronutrients and micronutrients, reduced root dieback and increased root growth were observed because root density was increased, and the tree was more efficient in nutrient uptake.
  • Nutrient leaching was significantly reduced with bi-weekly fertigation and retained nitrates in the top 6 inches.
  • Combined use of crop protection products and nutrition strategies appear to remediate HLB-affected trees.
  • A manganese rate of 8.9 to 11.5 kilograms per hectare for young HLB-affected Valencia trees appears to be appropriate.
  • An iron rate of 9.6 to 11.8 kilograms per hectare for young HLB-affected Bingo trees appears to be appropriate.
  • Increases were observed in root growth, canopy size and yield over time for trees fertilized with elevated doses of micronutrients.
  • Consideration should be made to revise and increase current micronutrient recommendations for HLB-affected trees.

Kadyampakeni’s summary of good irrigation practices included the following points:

  • Tools are available for irrigation management, including plant-based and soil-based sensors.
  • Optimal irrigation is possible using improved irrigation scheduling and can lead to great water savings.
  • Most Florida citrus soils are sandy and need good management to optimize water use.
  • More studies are needed on better irrigation management for bearing trees.

Mongi Zekri, UF/IFAS multi-county citrus Extension agent, hosted the seminar.

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