Citrus greening, also known as HLB, has changed the landscape of the Florida citrus industry, including the recommendations for citrus production practices and best management practices (BMPs). As research yields more clues to effectively combat the devastating disease, the recommendations change and adjust as well. Kelly Morgan, a UF/IFAS soil and water science professor, shared changes to recommendations for UF/IFAS production practices for Florida citrus growers at the recent Citrus Nutrition Day at UF/IFAS CREC in Lake Alfred. Part of those new recommendations is the frequent use of liquid fertilizers to help citrus trees to deal with the negative effects of citrus greening.
Changes in Recommendations for Liquid Fertilizers
According to Morgan’s presentation, the research shows that weekly, biweekly, or monthly applications of liquid fertilizers seemed to improve the performance of citrus greening-infected citrus trees. UF/IFAS’s recommendations include applying small amounts of nutrients and synchronizing those nutrient applications with the tree’s tree seasonal nutrient demand, maintaining it can improve health factors like canopy size, trunk growth, root development, and fruit yield. Citrus greening severely affects a tree’s roots, making it harder for the tree to take up nutrients and water.
Other changes in recommendations from UF/IFAS for Florida Citrus Production Practices include:
- Utilizing frequent application of water and nutrients to the root system to manage soil and water quality.
- Adding compost to benefit poor and depleted soils low in organic matter and boost soil fertility.
- Using production systems that eliminate citrus greening, like citrus under protective screen (CUPS). These production systems also have the advantages of promoting rapid tree growth, lowering fruit drop, increasing yields, improving the quality of fruit, and reducing the frequency of insecticide sprays to combat citrus greening-spreading Asian citrus psyllids.
Additional changes that may come in the future based on research that is underway, according to Morgan, include changes in micronutrient recommendations, nitrogen and potassium recommendations, and recommendations for soil phosphorus rates and testing.
UF/IFAS’s updated recommendations for Florida citrus production practices can be found in both the Nutrition of Florida Citrus Trees and the Florida Citrus Production Guide.