During the summer of 2021, Florida citrus growers raised concerns about nutrient recommendations for Florida’s Best Management Practices (BMPs) being too low for citrus trees in the era of citrus greening. In response, UF/IFAS researchers committed to re-evaluating recommendations based on past and ongoing research, and because citrus greening is endemic in the state. UF/IFAS assistant professor of soil and water science Davie Kadyampakeni has been conducting research on macronutrients and micronutrients needs for citrus. This research will lend itself to helping to update UF/IFAS nutrient recommendations, especially where citrus greening is concerned.
Macronutrients and Micronutrients for Citrus
Macronutrients are those nutrients that are absolutely essential for plant development, and they are generally referred to as “the big three” of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). Macronutrients also affect yield, tree health, and juice quality in citrus. For the most part, citrus growers have been concerned with the macronutrient needs of their citrus groves.
Micronutrients like manganese, boron, zinc, and iron are also important, but they have not had the focus that the ‘big three’ macronutrients have had in the pre-citrus greening era. However, researchers and growers alike are learning that micronutrients for citrus can play an important role in combating the effects of the citrus greening disease.
Kadyampakeni’s research on both macronutrients and micronutrients in citrus will be useful in shaping recommendations for citrus growers. Kadyampakeni has shared that the research has shown “tremendous success where we have increased the amounts of micronutrients over current recommendations.”
His research has been ongoing, and results have supported the need for “balanced and constant nutrition” for citrus greening-infected trees. He notes, “We should give these trees as much as they need in small amounts over time.” Nutrient recommendations will identify the exact levels of macronutrients and micronutrients growers should utilize to have the healthiest and most productive citrus trees possible.
The research will eventually yield recommendations for citrus growers for mitigating citrus greening-created stressors, like lower root mass, less canopy, and trees not being able to take up enough nutrients from the soil and water. Citrus greening has changed the shape of the Florida citrus industry, and nutrient recommendations will change as well.