By-product Iron-humate Increases Tree Growth and Fruit Production of Orange and Grapefruit

in HortScience

Citrus trees planted in alkaline soils typically show iron (Fe) deficiency chlorosis. Currently, Fe-EDDHA (ethylenediiminobis-2-hydroxyphenyl acetic acid) chelate is the most effective source of Fe for high pH soils. Iron humate (FeH), a by-product of the drinking water decolorization process, was compared with Fe-EDDHA for Fe deficiency correction on nonbearing `Ambersweet' orange and `Ruby Red' grapefruit Citrus paradisi Macf., and bearing `Hamlin' orange Citrus sinensis and `Flame' grapefruit trees, all on Swingle citrumelo rootstock, planted on high pH (>7.6) soils. Iron humate was applied under the tree canopy in spring at rates from 2 to 200 g Fe (nonbearing trees), or 22 to 352 g Fe (bearing trees) per tree per year. Application of FeH to nonbearing trees decreased twig dieback rating and increased flush growth, flush color rating, tree size, and leaf Fe concentration. Addition of urea or ammonium nitrate to FeH did not increase Fe availability. Iron amendments (22 g Fe per tree per year) increased fruit yield after the 1st year of application. Further increases in the rate of Fe, from 22 to 352 g Fe per tree per year as FeH, did not significantly increase tree growth, fruit yield, or fruit quality. This study demonstrated that FeH was an effective Fe source for citrus trees planted on alkaline soils.

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