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This study was conducted on well-watered citrus to determine changes in water relations during cold acclimation independent of drought stress. Potted sweet orange and Satsuma mandarin trees were exposed to progressively lower, non-freezing temperatures down to 10/4 °C, light/dark temperatures, respectively, for 9 weeks in environmental growth chambers to promote cold acclimation. The trees were watered twice daily and three times on the day water relations data were collected to minimize drought stress. Although soil moisture was higher and non-limiting for plants in the cold than in the warm chamber, cold temperatures promoted stomatal closure, higher root resistance, lower stem water potential (Ψstem), lower transpiration, and lower leaf ψS. Leaf relative water content (RWC) was not different for cold-acclimated trees compared with the controls. Cold acclimation promoted stomatal closure at levels only observed in severely drought-stressed plants exposed to warm temperatures and where Ψstem and RWC are typically much lower than what was found in this study. Ψstem continued to decline the last 4 weeks of the experiment although air temperature, leaf ψS, RWC, stomatal conductance (g S), and transpiration were constant. The results of this experiment indicate that water relations of citrus during cold acclimation vary from those known to occur as a result of drought stress, which have implications for using traditional measures of plant water status in irrigation scheduling during winter.

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No calibrated phosphorus (P) soil test exists to guide Florida citrus fertilization. Applying P fertilizer to citrus when it is not needed is wasteful and may cause undesirable P enrichment of adjacent surface water. The objective of this study was to establish guidelines for P management in developing Florida grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macf.) and orange (Citrus sinensis L. Osb.) orchards by determining the effect of P fertilizer rate on soil test P and subsequently calibrating a P soil test for citrus yield and fresh fruit quality. Two orchards were planted on sandy soil with 3 mg·kg−1 (very low) Mehlich 1 soil test P. In Years 1 through 3, P fertilization increased soil test P up to 102 mg·kg−1 (very high). In Years 4 through 7, canopy volume, yield, and fruit quality did not respond to available soil P as indexed by soil testing. As tree size and fruit production increased, leaf P was below optimum where soil test P was below 13 mg·kg−1 (grapefruit) or 31 mg·kg−1 (oranges). Total P in the native soil at planting was ≈42 mg·kg−1, which was apparently available enough to support maximum tree growth, fruit yield, and fruit quality for the first 7 years after planting. Trees were highly efficient in taking up P from a soil considered very low in available P. Citrus producers can likely refrain from applying P fertilizer to young trees on Florida sandy soils if soil test P is very high or high and probably medium as well.

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One of the primary reasons for the slow adoption of mechanical harvesting by Florida citrus growers is the physical injuries associated with it, including loss of leaves, twigs, flowers, and young fruits, limb breakage, and injuries to the bark and root. However, it has been shown that well-managed trees are capable of tolerating defoliation, limb loss, and root and bark injury caused by mechanical harvesting. Irrigation management is one of the most crucial factors that influence citrus tree health. A multiple-year field study was conducted on ‘Valencia’ sweet orange trees in a commercial citrus grove near Immokalee, FL, to determine the effect of initial tree canopy density and short-term drought stress on tree health, water uptake, and productivity of mechanically harvested trees. Three blocks were based on canopy density and overall appearance and indicated as low, moderate, and high canopy density. The experiment was laid in a split-plot design with four replications of six-tree plots of hand-harvested or mechanically harvested trees, taking drought stress or full irrigation as main treatments. The experimental design was repeated with trees in each plot of one of the three canopy density categories. After harvest, each six-tree plot was split into two three-tree subplots, where one subplot was drought-stressed and the other was fully irrigated. Harvesting was conducted in the Spring of 2010, 2011, and 2012 with the same experimental design and data collection procedures. The effects of short-term drought on water use and stem water potential were masked by heavy rains in Spring 2010 and thus no differences in the irrigation treatments were observed. In 2011 and 2012, stem water potential was unaffected by harvesting method. Water use was unaffected by harvesting method across the 3 years. Drought stress significantly increased pull force required to remove fruit and stem water potential after harvest. Although mechanically harvested trees lost leaf mass, with no rain before harvest, results from Spring 2011 and 2012 indicated that short-term drought stress had no effect on citrus leaf area irrespective of harvest method. Drought stress significantly increased fruit detachment force in low and moderate density but not in high-density trees resulting in increased force required to remove fruit from trees with moderate- to low-density canopies. Yield increased from 2010 to 2011 for mechanically harvested trees compared with hand-harvested for low-canopy density trees by 17% and moderate-canopy density trees by 8%, whereas high-density plots indicated similar yield after mechanical harvesting. Comparatively, yield in 2012 decreased in the low and moderate densities compared with yield in 2011 but increased in the high density by 14% and 53% in hand- and machine-harvested trees, respectively. Despite finding 2- to 3-fold more debris in the mechanically harvested trees than the hand-harvested trees, yields and other measured parameters were unaffected suggesting that mechanical harvesting of citrus trees did not have an adverse effect on growth and production of well-watered citrus trees.

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The abscission compound CMNP (5-chloro-3-methyl-4-nitro-1H-pyrazole) was applied to fully mature sweet orange trees at different spray volumes using a vertical, multiple-fan air-blast sprayer to determine distribution of fruit loosening throughout the canopy and subsequent effects on mechanical harvester efficiency. CMNP was applied at 0, 935, 1871, and 2806 L·ha−1 in three ‘Valencia’ and one ‘Hamlin’ grove. Spray coverage was measured using water-sensitive paper and fruit loosening was measured by fruit detachment force (FDF). Spray coverage and FDF were measured at 1-, 2-, and 4-m height within the canopy and inside the canopy near the trunk and on the periphery of the canopy. Spray coverage increased with volume of CMNP applied. Spray coverage was higher at 4 m than 1 and 2 m, which were similar. Spray coverage within the canopy was decreased almost half compared with that of the periphery. FDF was unaffected by spray volume at the different heights except in one trial where fruit had higher FDF at 4 m. Fruit inside the canopy did not loosen as much as fruit outside the canopy in three of the four trials. FDF inside the canopy averaged 52 to 84 N, whereas fruit on the periphery of the canopy averaged 50 to 74 N. CMNP promoted fruit drop, but only in two trials was the amount over 5% of the total yield for the 2806-L·ha−1 treatment. The fruit were harvested by canopy shakers that captured fruit on catch frames, except one of the ‘Valencia’ trials in which the canopy shaker did not have a catch frame. The percent of the total crop removed by the harvesters increased when CMNP was applied at higher spray volumes except in the ‘Hamlin’ trial in which there was no difference among volume treatments. The percent of the total crop removed by the harvester but not captured by the catch frame increased at higher volumes of CMNP applied for two of the three trials in which catch frames were used. Fruit loss with greater volume of CMNP applied was promoted by peripheral canopy contact with the front shield of the harvester that knocked fruit down before the catch frame moved under that portion of the canopy. Recovery percentage, or the percentage of total yield that was caught and conveyed to bulk collection by the harvester catch frame, averaged 78.1% to 87.8% of total yield. Higher CMNP volume with increased removal rate compensated for higher catch frame loss, providing overall higher recovery percentage. Based on the goals of minimizing fruit drop and maximizing fruit recovery, the range of FDF that should be reached by harvest is 40 N to 65 N for canopy shakers equipped with catch frames. These trials underscore the importance of adequate CMNP coverage for reducing in-canopy variation of fruit loosening and maximizing fruit removal.

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The following study was conducted in 2016 and 2017 to determine the impact of frequent foliar copper (Cu) applications on Huanglongbing (HLB)-affected Citrus sinensis cv. Valencia orange. The experiment was conducted in a psyllid-free greenhouse with HLB-positive and non-HLB control trees grown in an Immokalee fine sand soil. The trees were well-maintained to promote health. Cu was applied to the foliage at 0x, 0.5x, 1x, and 2x the commercially recommended rates, which were 0, 46, 92, and 184 mm, respectively, with applications made 3x in both 2016 and 2017. The impact of HLB and Cu treatments on leaf and root Cu concentrations, vegetative growth, Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLasiaticus) genome copy number, and acquisition of other essential nutrients were determined. HLB caused the roots to acidify the soil more than non-HLB controls, which promoted Cu availability and promoted greater Cu concentrations in leaves and roots. HLB and Cu application treatments suppressed leaf area and total root length observable in rhizotron tubes such that, by the end of the experiment, leaf, stem, root, and whole-plant dry weights were reduced. HLB reduced foliar concentrations of calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn) and possibly iron (Fe), but HLB did not affect root concentrations of these same essential nutrients. Cu application treatments did not affect leaf or root concentrations of other essential nutrients except foliar concentration of Fe, which may have been suppressed. Foliar applications of Cu are used to suppress Xanthomonas citri ssp. citri (Xcc) the causal agent of citrus canker, and the frequency of its use may need to be reconsidered in commercial groves.

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Huanglongbing (HLB) causes citrus root systems to decline, which in turn contributes to deficiencies of essential nutrients followed by decline of the canopy and yield. This study was conducted on a 6-year-old ‘Valencia’ [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.] on Swingle rootstock (Citrus paradisi Macf. × Poncirus trifoliata (L.) Raf.) trees in a commercial grove near Immokalee, FL, to evaluate the effects of foliar applications of selected essential nutrients (N, K, Mn, Zn, B, and Mg) on growth and productivity of citrus trees infected with Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), the pathogen putatively associated with HLB in Florida. Mn, Zn, B, and Mg were applied in all experiments to drip at 0×, 0.5×, 1.0×, and 2.0×/spray of what has been traditionally recommended in Florida to correct deficiencies. Treatments were applied foliarly 3×/year with the sprays occurring during each growth flush for 5 years (2010–14). Thus, the 0×, 0.5×, 1.0×, and 2.0×/spray treatments resulted in 0×, 1.5×, 3.0×, and 6.0×/year to correct deficiencies. MnS04 and ZnSO4 were applied with or without KNO3 and in separate experiments were compared with Mn3(PO3)2 and Zn3(PO3)2, respectively. Disease incidence, foliar nutrient content, canopy volume, and yield were measured. At the beginning of the experiment, foliar N, P, Ca, Mg, Cu, and B were in the sufficient range and K, Mn, Zn, and Fe were slightly low. Disease incidence was very high with 83% and 98% of trees testing positive for CLas in 2010 and 2014, respectively. Nutrients that are not mobile or have limited mobility in plants, namely Mn, Zn, and B, demonstrated an increase in foliar concentration immediately after spray and in the annual averages. Foliar K increased from the deficient to the sufficient level by KNO3 sprays, but the mobile nutrients N and Mg did not show an increase in foliar levels, indicating that intraplant transport occurs in the presence of HLB. Foliar KNO3 application had a stronger effect on growth than yield. Yield was most strongly affected by application of MnSO4 where yield of the 3×/year treatment was 45% higher than that of the unsprayed control, but yield declined by 25% for the 6×/year treatment. Yield within 95% of the maximum occurred with foliar Mn concentrations of 70–100 µg·g−1 dry weight when Mn was applied as MnSO4, which is at the high end of the traditionally recommended 25–100 µg·g−1 dry weight range. The phosphite form of Mn [Mn3(PO3)2] depressed yield by an average of 25% across all application concentrations. Zn, B, and Mg did not significantly impact yield. Canopy volume demonstrated concave relationships across application concentrations for MnSO4 and ZnSO4 without KNO3 and Mn3(PO3)2, Zn3(PO3)2, Boron, and MgSO4 with KNO3, with the minimum occurring near the 3×/year application concentration. These data indicate a complex interaction in the amount of nutrients applied and their corresponding effects on foliar concentration, growth, and yield for HLB-affected trees. The results of this study at least partially explain the current confusion among scientists and the commercial industry in how to manage nutrition of HLB-affected citrus trees. The traditionally recommended approaches to correcting nutrient deficiencies need to be reconsidered for citrus with HLB.

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This study examined the effect of irrigation rates, nitrogen (N) fertilizer rates, and methods of applying N on growth and productivity of young (3 to 5 years old) and maturing (8 to 10 years old) citrus trees. A long-term study was conducted with the following objectives: 1) to measure the main effects of N rate, N application method, and irrigation on citrus tree growth and production from planting to maturity; 2) to establish growth and production relationships for long-term N rates and irrigation on well-drained sandy Entisols; and 3) to determine the effect of split fertilizer applications at two soil moisture regimes on citrus growth and production for two tree age classes as trees mature. Irrigation was applied using two selected ranges of soil moisture tensions and annual N rate varied by tree age as percentages of recommended. Methods of applying N included a dry granular fertilizer (DGF) containing soluble N applied four times annually or a controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) applied once per year and fertigation applied either four (FG04) or 30 (FG30) times annually. Canopy size and yield were higher with the moderate irrigation rate compared with the low rate for both young and maturing trees. Critical N rates for both canopy volume and yield were between 178 and 200 kg·ha−1. The CRF and FG30 treatments produced larger trees and higher yields compared with FG04 and DGF in the young tree study, indicating that younger trees benefitted from frequent split fertilizer applications. As the trees matured and filled their allocated space, the two irrigation rates were continued and N was applied at six rates using either DGF or FG30. For these 8- to 10-year-old trees, critical values of N application rates were 210 and 204 kg·ha−1 for DGF and FG30, respectively. The absence of a significant interaction between N rate and application method indicated that N uptake efficiency was similar for all application methods tested. DGF and FG30 treatments resulted in similar maturing tree yields and fruit total soluble solids. Canopy volumes, for the same trees, were significantly greater all 3 years with the FG30 treatment compared with DGF. Thus, if increase in tree size is desired, increased number of split applications will likely promote tree growth; however, little increase in fruit yield may be obtained.

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Water Conserv II is a municipal reclaimed water project operated by the city of Orlando and Orange county, FL. The Water Conserv II project has been supplying high-quality reclaimed water for irrigation of citrus orchards, nurseries, greenhouse operations, golf courses, and residential landscapes in Orange and Lake counties since 1986. Selected commercial citrus orchards in the Water Conserv II service area receiving either groundwater or reclaimed water have been monitored quarterly since the project began. This yearly monitoring was undertaken to determine any adverse long-term effects on citrus tree growth or production associated with irrigation using this reclaimed water. Citrus blocks were rated for horticultural condition quarterly, fruit quality was determined before harvest, and soil and leaf samples were analyzed yearly from 1994 to 2004. Citrus growers irrigating with reclaimed water were encouraged to use higher-than-recommended amounts of water as a means of disposal of this reclaimed water resulting in increased weed growth and dilution of juice solids per box of fruit. Leaf boron and magnesium were significantly higher after irrigation with reclaimed water. Calcium and boron from the reclaimed water have eliminated the need in orchards receiving reclaimed water for liming of the soil and applying annual foliar sprays containing boron.

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Florida is the largest fresh-market tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.)–producing state in the United States. Although vegetable production requires frequent water supply throughout the crop production cycle to produce maximum yield and ensure high-quality produce, overirrigation can reduce crop yield and increase negative environmental consequences. This study was conducted to evaluate and compare irrigation schedules by a real-time and location-specific evapotranspiration (ET)-based SmartIrrigation Vegetable App (SI) with a historic ET-based schedule (HI). A field study was conducted on drip-irrigated, fresh-market tomato during the Fall of 2015 and Spring of 2016 on a Florida sandy soil. The two scheduling methods (SI and HI) were evaluated for irrigation water application, plant biomass accumulation, nutrient uptake and partitioning, and yield in open-field tomato production. Treatments included 100% HI (T1); 66% SI (T2); 100% SI (T3); and 150% SI (T4). Treatments were arranged in a randomized complete block design with four replicates per treatment during the two production seasons. In both seasons, depth of irrigation water applied increased in the order of T2 < T3 < T1 < T4. Total water savings was greater for T3 schedule compared with T1 schedule at 22% and 16% for fall and spring seasons, respectively. No differences were observed among treatments for tomato biomass accumulation at all sampling periods during both seasons. However, T3 resulted in significantly greater total marketable yield compared with other treatments in both seasons. The impact of irrigation application rate was greater in fruit and leaf nitrogen accumulation compared with that of stem and root biomass. Based on the plant performance and water savings, this study concludes that under a sandy soil condition, a real-time location-specific irrigation scheduler improves irrigation scheduling accuracy in relation to actual crop water requirement in open-field tomato production.

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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.

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