High-density citrus plantings are something many Florida citrus growers are turning to in order to try to maximize production in the face of citrus greening. The idea is simple enough: more trees per acre means higher harvests and shared inputs. However, there are many vital considerations that must be managed. Providing adequate nutrients through fertilizers plays an important part in the success of high-density plantings. See two columns we’ve shared prior that highlight the important role fertilizers in high-density plantings, which may be the future of Florida citrus.
Fertilizers and High-Density Citrus Plantings
One grove in DeSoto County, owned by Paul Citrus Inc., puts a real focus on root health in their latest 550-acre grove. The grove is planted with 276, 303, and 550 trees per acre; which is far above the norm of 100 trees per acre. They utilize dry and liquid applications, applying dry fertilizer in February, May, and August based on the trees’ needs and if they observe a flush coming on. They also focus their efforts on creating healthy soils, such as through planting cover crops between rows and ensuring that mowing mulch gets placed back under the citrus trees.
Another grove, Lost Lake Groves owned by Lake Placid grower Horace Durrance, ranks as super high-density as they have 908 trees per acre on a 14-acre block. Lost Lake Groves utilizes a slow-release fertilizer. Durrance maintained that he believes slow-release fertilizers save on future applications. The citrus trees were just planted in May of 2018, but an irrigation leak that necessitated digging under the trees’ roots to fix it just five weeks after planting showed that the trees’ roots were already growing together and overlapping, essentially searching out the nutrients.
Nutrient programs and their featured fertilizers aren’t the only part of a high-density citrus operation, but they are a fundamental component. Research continues to show the importance of nutrients and root health in the face of citrus greening, and doubling, tripling, and beyond the number of citrus trees per acre makes a nutrient program and appropriate fertilizers more important than ever.
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.