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.
“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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