Fruit Abscission and Leaf Drop in Citrus Cultivars Treated with Metsulfuron-methyl

in HortTechnology

Fruit of 11 citrus cultivars were evaluated for their response to the experimental abscission material metsulfuron-methyl at 2 mg·L-1 (ppm) active ingredient as an aid to mechanical or hand harvest. Cultivars evaluated included `Ambersweet', `Glen Navel', `Hamlin', and `Valencia' oranges [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.], `Robinson' tangerine (Clementine × Orlando, C. reticulata Blanco), `Sunburst' tangerine [`Robinson' × `Osceola', C. reticulata × (C. paradisi Macf. × C. reticulata)], `Murcott' and `Temple' tangor (C. reticulata × C. sinensis), `Orlando' tangelo (C. reticulata × C. paradisi), `Ray Ruby', and `Marsh' grapefruit (C. paradisi). Six of the 11 cultivars were effectively loosened by sprays of metsulfuron-methyl (`Hamlin', `Valencia', `Orlando', `Murcott', `Temple', and `Ray Ruby'). Addition of an adjuvant (Kinetic, 0.125%) was necessary for abscission activity in fruit and leaves. Trees sprayed with metsulfuron-methyl in combination with an adjuvant had higher percent cumulative fruit drop, higher internal ethylene, and lower fruit detachment forces (FDF) than trees sprayed with metsulfuron-methyl alone. `Sunburst' tangerine responded poorly to the abscission material in the presence or absence of Kinetic. Leaf loss was greatest in trees sprayed with metsulfuron-methyl and adjuvant, intermediate in trees sprayed with metsulfuron-methyl alone, and least in control trees. Twig dieback was observed in trees of `Valencia' orange and `Marsh' grapefruit sprayed with metsulfuron-methyl. The peel of some cultivars had irregular coloration and developed pitted areas after harvest. Although metsulfuron-methyl is an effective abscission agent for mature citrus fruit, further work is needed to more accurately define conditions for its safe and dependable use.

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