Due to major problems with pests and diseases, Brazilian producers have adopted alternative practices, such as dense planting, Fundecitrus’ Citricultor magazine recently reported. These practices reduce costs, increase yield and achieve a faster return on investment. As a result of this trend, new production practices are needed to improve management, including the frequent pruning of trees, which is essential in densely populated groves.
There are several benefits that mechanized pruning can provide for the development of groves, such as:
- Improved fruit quality
- Extended plant life
- Greater spacing within groves for harvesting operations and crop practices
- Better lighting inside the canopy
Furthermore, pruning is a great ally in the fight against greening and other diseases, since controlling the size of the plant leads to higher efficiency in the application of pesticides.
However, pruning must be conducted in a correct, balanced and planned way. Inadequate or excessive pruning can drastically reduce yield and cause phytosanitary problems such as the spread of some diseases in the wounds of cut areas. Pruning can also stimulate excess vegetative shoots and therefore promote the attraction and reproduction of the greening-spreading psyllid.
Embrapa researcher Eduardo Girardi said some producers are resistant to adopting the pruning practice due to difficulties in executing this work or inadequate technical guidance. Therefore, it is essential that citrus growers have proper pruning knowledge.
“Pruning is still not a traditional practice for citrus growers in Brazil. However, due to the large expansion of densely cultivated areas, it has become a necessity,” Girardi said. “Modern citriculture needs to incorporate the pruning technique to really provide benefits to producers.”
Girardi pointed out that, over the past 20 years, most producers have introduced dense planting in their groves. “The dense planting leads to an increase in intensive shading over adult groves, which reduces the bearing of fruits in the lower and inner part of the canopy, in addition to hindering the control of pests and diseases,” he said.
Plan the grove and assess whether the planting spacing is appropriate.
- Limit the maximum height of trees to 3 to 4 meters.
- Start pruning when the plant is young, from age 3.
- Perform light pruning every year on branches with a maximum diameter of 1 centimeter, on the side and top of the trees.
- Give preference to pruning in winter, after harvesting and before flowering. Pruning during this period results in less losses for the next crop season, in addition to decreasing new shoots, therefore helping in the maintenance of greening.
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