Nitrogen Fertigation of Young Navel Oranges: Growth, N Status, and Uptake of Fertilizer N

in HortScience

Microsprinkler irrigation may result in increased efficiency of N and water application to citrus. However, best management practices (BMPs) have not yet been developed for microsprinkler use, particularly on newly established citrus. Experiments were conducted during 1997-98 in central Arizona to evaluate the effects of N rate and fertigation frequency on `Newhall' navel oranges (Citrus sinensis) planted in Mar. 1997. Two experiments were conducted, each with factorial combinations of N rate (0 to 204 g/tree/year) and fertigation frequency (weekly to three times per year). In one experiment, nonlabeled N fertilizer was used, and in the other 15N-labeled fertilizer was used. Trunk diameter, leaf N, and 15N partitioning in the trees were monitored. During 1997, neither trunk diameter nor leaf N were affected by N rate or fertigation frequency. No more than 6% of N applied was found in the trees. During 1998, leaf N in fertilized plots was significantly higher than in nonfertilized plots, but leaf N in all trees remained above the critical N concentration of 25 mg·g-1. During 1998, no more than 25% of the fertilizer N applied was taken up by the trees. Results suggest that N applications are not needed during the first growing season after planting for microsprinkler-irrigated citrus in Arizona. Only low rates of N (≤68 g/tree/yr) may be needed during the second growing season to maintain adequate tree N reserves.

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