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  • Author or Editor: Alisheikh A. Atta x
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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