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Said A. Hamido, Kelly T. Morgan, Robert C. Ebel, and Davie M. Kadyampakeni

Because of the decline in production and negative economic effects, there is an urgent need for strategies to reduce the impact of Huanglongbing (HLB) on citrus [Citrus ×sinensis (L.) Osbeck]. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of different irrigation schedules on total available soil water (TAW) and water uptake characteristics of citrus trees affected by HLB in central and southwest Florida. The study was initiated in Jan. 2014 for 2 years on 5-year-old sweet orange trees located in three commercial groves at Arcadia, Avon Park, and Immokalee, FL. Each grove had three irrigation scheduling treatments including the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) recommendations, Daily irrigation, and an Intermediate treatment. All groves received similar volumes of water per week based on evapotranspiration (ETo) reported by the Florida Automated Weather Network. Sap flow (SF) measurements were taken for two trees per treatment for at least 10 days per site (twice/year). During those periods, leaf area, leaf area index (LAI), and stem water potential (Ψ) were determined. Also, TAW was determined using drainage curve and capacitance soil moisture sensors installed at incremental soil depths of 0–15, 15–30, and 30–45 cm. Results showed significant differences in average SF, LAI, Ψ, and TAW measurements among treatments. Diurnal SF value under daily irrigation treatment increased by 91%, 51%, and 105% compared with UF/IFAS irrigation in Arcadia, Avon Park, and Immokalee, respectively. Soil water contents (WCs) under daily treatment increased by 59%, 59%, and 70% compared with UF/IFAS irrigation treatment in Arcadia, Avon Park, and Immokalee, respectively. Our results indicated that daily irrigation improved tree water dynamics compared with IFAS or Intermediate irrigation scheduling treatments and reduced tree stress with the same volume of water.

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Davie M. Kadyampakeni, Kelly T. Morgan, Arnold W. Schumann, and Peter Nkedi-Kizza

Citrus (Citrus sp.) root length density (RLD) can help in understanding and predicting nutrient and water uptake dynamics. A study was conducted at two sites in Florida to investigate root and water distribution patterns among different irrigation and fertigation systems. The results over the 2 years showed that RLD was highest in the 0- to 15-cm soil depth and decreased with depth for all treatments at both sites. About 64% to 82% of the fibrous roots (<1 mm diameter) were concentrated in the irrigated zones of drip- and microsprinkler-irrigated trees and 18% to 36% were found in the nonirrigated zones at the Spodosol site (SS). At the Entisol site (ES), the RLD (<0.5 mm diameter) in the 0- to 15-cm depth soil for intensive microsprinkler or drip irrigation was 3- to 4-fold (nonirrigated zone) and 4- to 7-fold (irrigated zone) greater at the 0- to 15-cm soil depth than that for conventional irrigation system. The trees at SS were symptomatic for Huanglongbing (HLB; Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus) in the second year, while those at ES were asymptomatic throughout the study. This might have limited the density and extent of root distribution at SS. The water contents remained either close to or slightly above the field capacity. The results showed higher RLD for intensive irrigation and fertigation practices in irrigated zones compared with conventional grower applications suggesting greater water and nutrient uptake potential for the former.

Open access

Dinesh Phuyal, Thiago Assis Rodrigues Nogueira, Arun D. Jani, Davie M. Kadyampakeni, Kelly T. Morgan, and Rhuanito Soranz Ferrarezi

Huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening disease, affects practically all fruit-bearing trees in commercial citrus orchards in Florida with no cure identified yet. High-density plantings and enhanced nutritional programs such as application of controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) with higher micronutrient levels can mitigate disease symptoms and extend the tree life span of sweet oranges (Citrus sinensis). The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of tree planting density and application of CRF blends differing in N to K ratio and micronutrient content on grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) plant health, canopy volume, fruit yield, and fruit quality in an HLB-affected orchard. A study was conducted in Florida for two growing seasons (2017–18 and 2018–19) to evaluate the response of ‘Ray Ruby’ grapefruit on Kuharske citrange (Citrus sinensis × Poncirus trifoliata) to three planting densities (300, 440, and 975 trees per ha) and two CRF blends [12 nitrogen (N)–1.31 phosphorus (P)–7.47 potassium (K) and 16N–1.31P–16.6K] with different nutrient sources and composition. According to quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction testing, all sampled trees tested positive for Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, the pathogen associated with HLB. Trees planted at 975 trees per ha had 33% lower canopy volume per tree but 160% greater fruit yield per hectare and 190% higher yield of solids compared with 300 trees per ha. Fruit produced in high-density planting (975 trees per ha) was 18% more acidic with higher soluble solid compared with low-density planting (300 trees per ha). The use of a CRF blend with higher amounts of micronutrients along with lower K increased canopy volume in both seasons and resulted in 24% and 29% reduction in fruit yield per hectare and yield of solids, respectively, in 2017–18. Our results indicate that high-density plantings increase fruit yield per area, and regardless of the N to K ratio, the use of CRF blends supplemented with micronutrients may not increase fruit yield in HLB-affected grapefruit.

Open access

Dinesh Phuyal, Thiago Assis Rodrigues Nogueira, Arun D. Jani, Davie M. Kadyampakeni, Kelly T. Morgan, and Rhuanito Soranz Ferrarezi

Since the arrival of Huanglongbing (HLB) disease in Florida, several management approaches, including modification of orchard architecture design and nutritional therapy, have been explored. High-density plantings anticipate early economic returns from HLB-affected orchards. With no cure available for HLB, balanced nutrient application through soil and foliar spraying can mitigate the disease. A 2-year study was conducted to investigate the effects of three grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) planting densities [single-row (300 and 440 trees per ha), and double-row high-density (975 trees per ha)], two controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) blends, and foliar-applied micronutrients (FAM) (a blend of B, Mn, and Zn at 0, 1.5, 3, and 6 times the recommended rates) on grapefruit growth and fruit yield, physiological parameters, and foliar nutrient concentrations in an HLB-affected orchard. All the trees tested positive for HLB based on real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) test. The highest planting density resulted in the lowest trunk diameter and canopy volume. Despite lower yield per tree in 2019–20, 975 trees per ha planting induced the greatest fruit and solid yields per ha. Also, the fruit produced from 975 trees per ha planting tended to be acidic with the deposition of more soluble solids. Use of CRF with higher micronutrients increased canopy volume with the expense of reduced fruit number in 2019–20. FAM did not affect cycle threshold (Ct) value and tree growth parameters. Fruit yield, photosynthesis rate, and stomatal conductance (g S) decreased, and all leaf nutrient concentrations except B increased in 2019–20 with all FAM rates tested. In conclusion, our study showed that high-density planting optimizes yield under HLB-endemic conditions. In addition, supplemental soil and foliar micronutrient application do not enhance yield of HLB-affected trees over a 2-year timeframe, warranting further research for confirmation of results.

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Emmanuel A. Torres-Quezada, Lincoln Zotarelli, Vance M. Whitaker, Rebecca L. Darnell, Bielinski M. Santos, and Kelly T. Morgan

Earlier fall planting dates for strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) in west-central Florida tend to promote earlier onset of flowering and fruiting. However, warm air temperatures (>28 °C) can result in excessive growth and runner production. Sprinkler irrigation is a common practice to reduce air temperature in the first 10 to15 days after transplanting, requiring large volumes of irrigation water. An alternative to sprinkler irrigation is the application of crop protectants such as kaolin clay after transplanting. The objectives of this study were to determine the optimal planting dates and to assess the most appropriate establishment practices for strawberry bare-root transplants in Florida. Four establishment practices—10 days of sprinkler irrigation (DSI), 10 DSI + kaolin clay, 7 DSI, and 7 DSI + kaolin clay were evaluated for ‘Florida Radiance’ and Sweet Sensation® ‘Florida127’ transplanted in mid September, late September, and early October in consecutive seasons. For ‘Florida127’, September planting dates increased early yield compared with early-October traditional planting dates, with no difference in total yield. Seven DSI followed by the foliar application of kaolin clay at day 8 was also found to increase early yield compared with 10 DSI for strawberry establishment, with annual water savings of 108.7 mm.