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  • Author or Editor: Davie M. Kadyampakeni x
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There is accumulating evidence that root system collapse is a primary symptom associated with Huanglongbing (HLB)-induced tree decline, especially for commercial sweet orange and grapefruit trees on Swingle and Carrizo rootstocks. Maintaining root health is imperative to keep trees productive in an HLB-endemic environment. Preliminary greenhouse and field studies have shown that HLB-impacted trees had secondary and micronutrient deficiencies that were much greater in the roots than in the leaves, and that treatments containing three-times the recommended dose of manganese (Mn) improved tree health and growth and increased feeder root density in greenhouse trees. These results suggested that trees in an HLB-endemic environment have higher specific micronutrient requirements than those currently recommended. To test this hypothesis, established Vernia sweet orange grafted onto rough lemon rootstock trees were divided into eight supplemental CRF nutrition treatments (including two-times and four-times the recommended doses of Mn and boron) using a randomized complete block design in a commercial grove in St. Cloud, FL. The following supplemental nutrition treatments were used: no extra nutrition (control); Harrell’s–St. Helena mix 0.9 kg per tree; Harrell’s with 32 g of Florikan polycoated sodium borate (PSB) per tree; Harrell’s with 90 g of TigerSul® Mn sulfate (MS) per tree; Harrell’s with 32 g of PSB and 90 g of MS per tree; 180 g of MS per tree; 64 g of PSB per tree; and 180 g of MS plus 64 g of PSB per tree applied every 6 months since Fall 2015. Leaf and soil nutritional analyses were performed in Mar. 2017, Sept. 2017, and May 2018; a quantitative polymerase chain reaction was performed for Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) titer estimation in Nov. 2017. Significantly higher cycle threshold (Ct) values indicating reduced CLas bacterial populations were observed in trees that received the higher doses of Mn, especially those receiving four-times the recommended dosage of Mn (180 g Mn). Many trees exhibited Ct values of 32 or more, indicating a nonactive infection. Fruit yields of these trees were also increased. No significant differences in juice characteristics, canopy volume, and trunk section area were found between control plants and plants treated with 180 g Mn. Soil and leaf nutrients B, K, Mn, and Zn were significantly different among treatments at various times during the study. Our results strongly suggest that overdoses of Mn can suppress CLas bacterial titers in sweet orange trees on rough lemon rootstock, thus providing a therapeutic effect that can help restore tree health and fruit yields. This response was not observed when Mn and B were combined in the overdose, suggesting an antagonistic effect from B on Mn metabolism. When an overdose of Mn is used, biological functions and tree tolerance lost due to nutritional imbalances caused by HLB might be restored. Further studies are needed to elucidate which metabolic pathways are altered by comparing overdosed and conventionally fertilized HLB-impacted trees and to determine if the observed therapeutic effects can be achieved in trees grafted to other important commercial rootstocks.

Open Access

Essential nutrients for citrus [‘Bingo’ (Citrus reticulata, Blanco)] production are important for different functions, including photosynthesis, resistance to disease, and productivity. During the past 15 to 20 years, citrus production in Florida has significantly declined as a result of the devastating citrus greening disease also called huanglongbing (HLB). Therefore, a greenhouse study was conducted for 2 years, starting in 2018, at the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Citrus Research and Education Center in Florida to evaluate the effect of varying rates of iron on the growth and development of 2-year-old HLB-affected ‘Bingo’ (Citrus reticulata, Blanco) trees on Kuharske citrange rootstock. Four treatments were used in a randomized complete block (HLB status) design with seven single tree replicates for each treatment. The treatments applied were 0.0 (control), 5.6 (standard fertilization, lx), 11.2 (2x), and 22.4 (4x) kg⋅ha−1 iron on HLB-affected and healthy (non-HLB) citrus trees. Data including trunk diameter, tree height, and leaf samples were collected, processed, and analyzed at 3-month intervals for 2 years. At the end of the second year, trees were destructively sampled and processed as above-ground and below-ground biomass. Tree heights were different among iron rates of HLB-affected trees (P < 0.001); however, they were similar for non-HLB trees for both years. Higher average trunk diameters (P < 0.001) were observed for HLB-affected trees that received the 2x rate compared with the 1x rate and the control. In 2019, non-HLB trees showed 13% to 40% higher iron concentrations in leaves than HLB-affected trees. However, leaf iron concentrations were comparable for HLB-affected and non-HLB trees in 2020. Above-ground biomass for HLB-affected trees had between 33% and 44% more biomass (P < 0.01) than below-ground biomass for the corresponding iron fertilization. Iron accumulation correlated positively with all studied nutrients in the above-ground parts for both HLB-affected and non-HLB trees. A 95% confidence interval at which total biomass was nearly maximum corresponded to an iron rate of 9.6 to 11.8 kg⋅ha−1, which was close to the 2x rate. Therefore, soil iron application using the aforementioned rates may be appropriate for better growth and development of young HLB-affected trees.

Open Access

Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), which causes huanglongbing (HLB) in citrus trees, has a great impact on tree root health, fruit development, and juice quality. HLB-affected trees have a fibrous root density loss of ∼30% to 80%, resulting in the limited capacity of citrus trees to uptake nutrients. Therefore, this study was conducted for 3 years to 1) assess the temporal changes in root density as a result of varied fertilization, 2) determine dynamics of HLB with regard to root growth and distribution as a result of varied fertilization for Valencia orange trees, and 3) evaluate the impact of varied fertilization rate and method of fertilization on fruit yield for HLB-affected trees. Macronutrients and micronutrients were applied at varying fertilization rates (0×, 1×, 2×, and 4×, of University of Florida guidelines). Root scans were done using minirhizotrons at 0 to 19.1 cm, 19.1 to 40.7 cm, 38.2 to 59.8 cm, and 57.3 to 78.9 cm soil depths. Results obtained from the study showed that root growth and distribution were greater in 0 to 19.1 cm than 19.1 to 40.7 cm to 57.3 to 78.9 cm soil depths. Thus, root growth decreased (P < 0.0004) with increasing soil depth due to variation in nutrient availability for tree uptake. Increased nutrient availability at occurrence of physiological processes in citrus trees also influenced root growth and distribution, resulting in root growth flushes in the months of Nov to early Feb and Jul to early Aug. Fruit yield was significantly different between treatments in 2 of the 4 years of the study (P = 0.001 and P = 0.003), and largely ascribed to soil fertilization of micronutrients compared with foliar. Therefore, at higher fertilization rates, particularly via soil application, nutrient availability was increased, thus promoting root growth and distribution and fruit yield in HLB-affected orange trees.

Open Access

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.

Free access

Improving nutrient uptake and tree health play an important role in managing Huanglongbing (HLB)-affected citrus trees in Florida. A greenhouse experiment was conducted to evaluate the effect of increasing rates of manganese (Mn) on growth and development of sweet orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck] trees at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, FL. Half the trees were graft-inoculated with the HLB pathogen and the remainder were used as the HLB-free (non HLB) control trees. Four rates of Mn (0.0 kg·ha−1 Mn (Control), 5.6 kg·ha−1 Mn (1x—standard rate), 11.2 kg·ha−1 Mn (2x—standard rate), and 22.4 kg·ha−1 Mn (4x—standard rate) were split applied quarterly to both sets of the trees in a completely randomized design. There were seven single tree replicates for each treatment. Response variables measured were trunk diameter, tree height, leaf Mn concentration, plus above- and belowground biomass. The accumulated Mn in leaf tissues significantly increased trunk diameter but did not affect tree height for both HLB-affected and non-HLB trees, the 2x rate had the maximum value for trunk diameter relative to the 4x rate. This study established a positive correlation between soil available Mn with Fe and Cu, but negative correlation with B and Zn. A strong correlation of −0.76, −0.69, and 0.65 was observed between soil Mn and B, Zn, and Cu, respectively, as compared with 0.49 with Mn and Fe. Among HLB-affected trees, the 2x rate gave the most belowground dry matter, which was 3% greater than the control and 5% greater than 4x. Aboveground dry matter had at least 30% more biomass than belowground matter among all treatments within HLB-affected trees. For small and medium roots, Mn accumulation increased with Mn application until 2x rate and decreased thereafter for HLB-affected trees. The results from our study showed an Mn rate of 8.9–11.5 kg·ha−1 Mn, as the optimum Mn level for young ‘Valencia’ HLB-affected trees in Florida.

Open Access

The bacterial disease Huanglongbing (HLB) has drastically reduced citrus production in Florida. Nutrients play an important role in plant defense mechanisms and new approaches to manage the disease with balanced nutrition are emerging. Nutrients like nitrogen (N), calcium (Ca), and magnesium (Mg) could extend the productive life of affected trees, although interactions among these nutrients in HLB-affected citrus trees are still unclear. A 2-year study was established in Florida to determine the response of HLB-affected trees to applications of N, Ca, and Mg. The study was conducted with ‘Valencia’ trees (Citrus sinensis L. Osbeck) on Swingle citrumelo (Citrus paradisi Macf. × Poncirus trifoliata L. Raf.) rootstock on a Candler sand. Applications of N at 168, 224 (recommended rate), and 280 kg⋅ha−1 N were used as the main plots. Split-plots consisted of a grower standard treatment receiving only basal Ca (51 kg⋅ha−1) and Mg (56 kg⋅ha−1); supplemental Ca (total Ca inputs: 96 kg⋅ha−1) only; supplemental Mg (total Mg inputs: 101 kg⋅ha−1) only; and supplemental Ca (total Ca inputs: 73.5 kg⋅ha−1) and Mg (total Mg inputs: 78.5 kg⋅ha−1). The following variables were measured: tree size, fruit yield, and juice quality. Although some differences in tree growth among treatments were statistically significant (e.g., greater canopy volume with Mg fertilization at 168 kg⋅ha−1 N), there was no clear and consistent effect of plant nutrition on these variables. Fruit yield was higher with Ca and Mg relative to the grower standard at the lowest N rate in 2020, and there were no other statistically significant differences among treatments. Juice acidity was significantly higher with Mg fertilization relative to other treatments in 2019. As N rates had no significant effect in this study, unlike secondary macronutrients, N rates could potentially be reduced to 168 kg N⋅ha−1 in HLB-affected citrus without affecting vegetative growth, fruit yield, and juice quality. However, this will require optimizing the supply of secondary macronutrients and all other nutrients to develop a balanced nutritional program. Ultimately, the effects of N, Ca, and Mg obtained in this 2-year study should be confirmed with longer-term studies conducted at multiple sites.

Open Access

Effective nutrient and irrigation management practices are critical for optimum growth and yield in open-field fresh-market tomato production. Although nutrient and irrigation management practices have been well-studied for tomato production in Florida, more studies of the current highly efficient production systems would be considered essential. Therefore, a two-season (Fall 2016 and Spring 2017) study was conducted in Immokalee, FL, to evaluate the effects of the nitrogen (N) rates under different irrigation regimes and to determine the optimum N requirement for open-field fresh-market tomato production. To evaluate productivity, the study investigated the effects of N rates and irrigation regimes on plant and root growth, yield, and production efficiency of fresh-market tomato. The study demonstrated that deficit irrigation (DI) targeting 66% daily evapotranspiration (ET) replacement significantly increased tomato root growth compared with full irrigation (FI) at 100% ET. Similarly, DI application increased tomato growth early in the season compared with FI. Therefore, irrigation applications may be adjusted downward from FI, especially early during a wet season, thereby potentially improving irrigation water use efficiency (iWUE) and reducing leaching potential of Florida sandy soils. However, total marketable yield significantly increased under FI compared with DI. This suggests that although DI may increase early plant growth, the application of DI throughout the season may result in yield reduction. Although N application rates had no significant effects on biomass production, tomato marketable yield with an application rate of 134 kg·ha−1 N was significantly lower compared with other N application rates (179, 224, and 269 kg·ha−1). It was also observed that there were no significant yield benefits with N application rates higher than 179 kg·ha−1. During the fall, iWUE was higher under DI (33.57 kg·m−3) than under FI (25.57 kg·m−3); however, iWUE was similar for both irrigation treatments during spring (FI = 14.04 kg·m−3; DI = 15.29 kg·m−3). The N recovery (REC-N) rate was highest with 134 kg·ha−1 N; however, REC-N was similar with 179, 224, and 269 kg·ha−1 N rates during both fall and spring. Therefore, these study results could suggest that DI could be beneficial to tomato production only when applied during early growth stages, but not throughout the growing season. Both yield and efficiency results indicated that the optimum N requirement for open-field fresh-market tomato production in Florida may not exceed 179 kg·ha−1 N.

Open Access

Since the first occurrence of Huanglongbing (HLB) in the Florida commercial citrus industry in 2004, fruit yield and yield components of HLB-affected citrus have declined in endemically affected citrus tree groves. Optimal fertilization is thus critical for improving tree performance because nutrients are vital for tree growth and development, and play a significant role in tree disease resistance against various biotic and abiotic stresses. The objective of the current study was to determine whether leaf nutrient concentration, tree growth, yield, and postharvest quality of HLB-affected citrus trees were improved by the split application of nutrients. The four micronutrient application rates were used as fixed factors and the three nitrogen (N) rates were used as random factors for leaf nutrient analyses, tree growth, fruit yield, and postharvest analyses. Significant leaf manganese (Mn) and zinc (Zn) concentrations were detected when trees received foliar and soil-applied micronutrients regardless of the N rates. There was a strong regression analysis of leaf Mn and Zn nutrient concentration and nutrient rates with R2 : 0.61 and 0.59, respectively. As a result, a significant leaf area index associated with foliar and soil-applied micronutrient rates had a positive correlation with leaf area index and soil pH with R2 : 0.58 and 0.63 during the spring and summer seasons, respectively. Trees that received a moderate (224 kg·ha−1) N rate showed the least fruit decay percentage and total soluble solids (TSS) of 8% more than the lowest (168 kg·ha−1) and highest (280 kg·ha−1) N rates, even though fruit yield variations were barely detected as these micronutrients promoted vegetative growth. Moreover, the TSS to titratable acidity (TA) ratio of foliar and soil-applied micronutrient-treated trees showed 2% and 7% greater values than the foliar-only treated and control trees, respectively. Although micronutrients exacerbated stem-end rind breakdown (SERB), these nutrients significantly improved fruit storage when the fruits were stored for extended periods (8–11 weeks). Thus, moderate N rate, foliar (1×), and soil-applied (1×) micronutrient treatments improved tree growth, fruit postharvest, and fruit storage characteristics.

Open Access

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

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.

Open Access