Citrus irrigation scheduling is a must-do for Florida citrus growers to walk that fine line between adequately irrigating their citrus groves and maintaining water conservation efforts. There are many different considerations concerning irrigation scheduling for citrus, and those factors also affect nutrition and fertilizer management, so citrus producers will want to ensure they are checking off the below factors to optimize irrigation scheduling, fertilizer management, and more.
Irrigation scheduling for citrus may have several objectives—such as maximizing yield per acre and nutrient uptake while minimizing nutrient leaching, just to name a few—but no matter the desired end result, the following factors come into play, according to UF/IFAS Extension publications:
- Root Distribution: Shallow or deep root patterns and root development affect irrigation, nutrient management, etc. Root distribution changes with different soils, so soil type affects root distribution, as does the age of the citrus trees. Soil type and the age of citrus trees must be taken into account when factoring irrigation schedules, fertilizer management, and nutrients.
- Water Table: The depth of a water table in the ground sets the lowest point in the soil where citrus roots can grow. A water table several feet down allows for a greater volume of citrus tree roots than a grove located over a shallow water table. Thus, water table monitoring should be conducted.
- Drainage: Some soils hold water better than others, so it should factor into irrigation.
- Irrigation Depth and Duration: The length of time irrigation occurs and how far down the water penetrates should be monitored, and irrigation should be adjusted to avoid both too wet and too dry conditions. This will affect fertilization schedules and other nutrient add-ons.
With careful monitoring and adjustment, hitting the sweet spot of citrus irrigation is possible.
This column is sponsored by Griffin Fertilizer Co., and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers.
BIO: Mike Roberts is the Vice President of the Frostproof, Fla.-based Griffin Fertilizer Co. Roberts joined the company in November 2011. He has spent the majority of his career in the fertilizer/agchem industry. Roberts earned a Bachelor of Science degree in citrus production from Florida Southern College in Lakeland. For more information, visit griffinfertilizer.com.