To the everyday person, potassium (K) is an essential nutrient for physical health. What the grower knows, is this chemical element— the same one that is good for the human body— is also one of the most important nutrients for Florida citrus trees and is applied as fertilizer in the groves. On a fertilizer label, it is known as K2O, and can make or break the quality and yield of the grove, as well as the fruit size.
According to Mongi Zekri and Tom Obreza, authors of the UF/IFAS EDIS publication “Potassium (K) for Citrus Trees,” here are a few things to remember:
- The sandy soils that Florida is famous for are naturally low in K.
- Furthermore, in our sandy soils, K does not remain fixed and does not accumulate, even with repeated fertilizer applications.
- K deficiency is not widely common in Florida groves, but can happen. For example, when the soil has high pH levels, or when the N rates stimulate more fruit to grow on the trees, a K deficiency can occur, and with possible devastating results.
- That being said, Florida citrus growers must apply K fertilizer yearly to maintain healthy trees.
It’s also important to remember the difference between citrus greening disease (or Huanglongbing) and a K deficiency. Citrus greening symptoms present on the leaves as vein yellowing that is asymmetrical, whereas a K deficiency will show symptoms on older leaves first, with yellowing of the tips, followed by the margins and gets broader.
Whether you’re a seasoned grower or a younger member of the industry, we can help. Anytime you have questions about the health of your soil or field, turn to the team at Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC. We have the skills, experience and product knowledge to help your trees thrive. You can reach us at (813) 333-3182.
This column is sponsored by Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or its advertisers.
John Baxter is the Florida Division Manager of Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC. He has proudly served Florida growers at Helena for 25 years, and he also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Florida Fertilizer & Agrichemical Association. For more information about Helena products or services, or to contact a member of the Florida team, call (813) 626-5121.