The use of glyphosate as a post-emergent weed management tool is crucial in Florida citrus production. However, extensive and nonjudicious application of glyphosate has drawn increasing concerns about its inadvertent effects on citrus, mainly linked to its possible impacts on preharvest fruit drop. Our study investigated the effect of applying glyphosate in the tree rows near the fruit harvesting window on fruit drop and yield in ‘Valencia’ sweet orange. Field trials were conducted at Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, Immokalee, FL. The experiments had a randomized complete block design with four replications. Three different doses of glyphosate within the labeled range of rates in citrus (i.e., low, medium, and high at 0.84, 2.10, and 4.20 kg acid equivalents of glyphosate per hectare, respectively) along with a water control treatment were sprayed in ‘Valencia’ citrus tree rows close to the harvesting period and assessed for their effects on preharvest fruit drop and yield. Our findings show that glyphosate application near the harvesting window may influence the fruit detachment force (FDF) in Valencia citrus; however, no significant effect on increasing fruit drop or reducing yield was observed during this 2-year study.
The prevalence of Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, also known as citrus greening, has compelled the citrus industry to change management practices to increase production. However, these changes, such as enhanced nutrition and irrigation programs, have caused weed proliferation, subsequently leading to increased use of herbicides. Thus, our study evaluated a popular preemergence herbicide active ingredient, diuron, for nontarget impacts on young Hamlin and Valencia sweet orange (Citrus sinensis L. Osbek) trees in two commercial orchards in southwest Florida. The treatments included the preemergence application of diuron at three rates (1.8, 3.6, and 7.3 kg a.i./ha), a weed-checked control (using postemergence herbicides: glufosinate ammonium + saflufenacil), and a nontreated control. The treatments were applied twice (in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022) in a randomized complete block with four replicates. Results indicate that over a 5-month period, the application of diuron generally had no significant impact on citrus root growth. Further, over a 2-month observation period for Hamlin and a 4-month observation period for Valencia, it was found that diuron application had no notable effect on fruit detachment force. Valencia trees treated with diuron high showed higher HLB disease severity at location 1. In addition, Hamlin trees treated with diuron low and medium showed higher fruit drop (∼19% more) than the untreated control at location 1. However, this trend was inconsistent across the locations and cultivars. This result suggests that increased disease severity and fruit drop were not associated with diuron treatment. Thus, our study finds diuron as a tree-safe option for preemergence weed suppression in citrus production, as long as it is used in accordance with the recommended dosage and restrictions stated on the herbicide label.