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  • Author or Editor: Brian J. Boman x
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A study was initiated in the 1997-98 production season to evaluate the effects of salinity on grapefruit yield and fruit quality in the Indian River area of Florida. The experiment was conducted on `Ray Ruby' grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) planted in 1990 on `Carrizo' citrange (C. sinensis × Poncirus trifoliata) and `Swingle' citrumelo (C. paradisi × P. trifoliata) rootstocks. Trees were planted on 15.2-m-wide (50 ft) double-row beds at a spacing of 4.6 m (15 ft) in-row × 7.3 m (24 ft) across-row [286.6 trees/ha (116 trees/acre)]. The control treatment was irrigated via microsprinkler emitters with water from a surficial aquifer well with an electrical conductivity (EC) of 0.7 dS·m-1. Higher irrigation water salinity levels were achieved by injecting a sea water brine mixture into the supply water to achieve ECs of 2.3, 3.9, and 5.5 dS·m-1. A wide range of rainfall and irrigation conditions occurred during the years encompassed by these studies, with rain totaling 1262, 1294, 1462, and 964 mm (49.7, 50.9, 57.6, and 38.0 inches) for 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000, respectively. Salinity level had little effect on internal juice quality parameters [total soluble solids (TSS), acid, or juice content] at time of harvest. One of the most visible effects of irrigation with high salinity water was the damage to leaves, with leaf chloride (Cl) levels increasing about 0.14% for each 1.0 dS·m-1 increase in EC of the irrigation water for trees on `Carrizo' citrange and 0.02% for trees on `Swingle' citrumelo. For both rootstocks, the number of fruit and the size of the fruit decreased with increasing salinity in the irrigation water. The non-salinized trees had significantly larger fruit compared to the rest of the treatments. In the very dry 2000-01 season, trees on `Carrizo' irrigated with 0.7 dS·m-1 water had about 50% more fruit size 36 [fruit count per 0.028-m3 (4/5 bu) carton] or larger than trees watered with 3.9 or 5.5 dS·m-1 water. For trees on `Swingle' rootstock, trees irrigated with 0.7 dS·m-1 water had 150% to 200% more size 36 and larger fruit than trees watered with 2.3 dS·m-1 water. Over the four seasons, average yields for `Carrizo' were reduced 3200.0 kg·ha-1 (2855 lb/acre) per year for each 1.0 dS·m-1 increase in EC of the irrigation water. For `Swingle' rootstock, the reduction was 2600.3 kg·ha-1 (2320 lb/acre) per year for each 1.0 dS·m-1 increase in EC of the irrigation water. These reductions averaged 7% (`Swingle') and 6% (`Carrizo') for each 1.0 dS·m-1 increase in salinity of the irrigation water.

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Although citrus (Citrus spp.) is sensitive to salinity, acceptable production can be achieved with moderate salinity levels, depending on the climate, scion cultivar, rootstock, and irrigation-fertilizer management. Irrigation scheduling is a key factor in managing salinity in areas with salinity problems. Increasing irrigation frequency and applying water in excess of the crop water requirement are recommended to leach the salts and minimize the salt concentration in the root zone. Overhead sprinkler irrigation should be avoided when using water containing high levels of salts because salt residues can accumulate on the foliage and cause serious injury. Much of the leaf and trunk damage associated with direct foliar uptake of salts can be reduced by using microirrigation systems. Frequent fertilization using low rates is recommended through fertigation or broadcast application of dry fertilizers. Nutrient sources should have a relatively low salt index and not contain chloride (Cl) or sodium (Na). In areas where Na accumulates in soils, application of calcium (Ca) sources (e.g., gypsum) has been found to reduce the deleterious effect of Na and improve plant growth under saline conditions. Adapting plants to saline environments and increasing salt tolerance through breeding and genetic manipulation is another important method for managing salinity.

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Rootstock significantly affected the development of stem-end rind breakdown (SERB) on `Valencia' and navel oranges (Citrus sinensis), but not `Ray Ruby' grapefruit (C. paradisi) or `Oroblanco' (C. grandis × C. paradisi), and affected postharvest decay on navel orange, `Ray Ruby' grapefruit, `Oroblanco' and one of two seasons (2002) on `Valencia' orange. In `Valencia' and navel oranges, fruit from trees grown on Gou Tou (unidentified Citrus hybrid) consistently developed low SERB. `Valencia' oranges on US-952 [(C. paradisi × C. reticulata) × Poncirus trifoliata] developed high levels of SERB in both years tested. Relative SERB of fruit from other rootstocks was more variable. Navel oranges, `Ray Ruby' grapefruit, and `Oroblanco' fruit from trees on Cleopatra mandarin (C. reticulata) rootstock consistently developed relatively low levels of decay, and in navel this level was significantly lower than observed from trees on all other rootstocks. In three of five trials we observed significant differences between widely used commercial rootstocks in their effects on postharvest SERB and/or decay. Given the expanding importance of sales to distant markets, it is suggested that evaluations of quality retention during storage be included when developing citrus rootstocks and scion varieties for the fresh market.

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Completely enclosed screen houses can physically exclude contact between the asian citrus psyllid [ACP (Diaphorina citri)] and young, healthy citrus (Citrus sp.) trees and prevent huanglongbing (HLB) disease development. The current study investigated the use of antipsyllid screen houses on plant growth and physiological parameters of young ‘Ray Ruby’ grapefruit (Citrus ×paradisi) trees. We tested two coverings [enclosed screen house and open-air (control)] and two planting systems (in-ground and container-grown), with four replications arranged in a split-plot experimental design. Trees grown inside screen houses developed larger canopy surface area, canopy surface area water use efficiency (CWUE), leaf area index (LAI) and LAI water use efficiency (LAIWUE) relative to trees grown in open-air plots (P < 0.01). Leaf water transpiration increased and leaf vapor pressure deficit (VPD) decreased in trees grown inside screen houses compared with trees grown in the open-air plots. CWUE was negatively related to leaf VPD (P < 0.01). Monthly leaf nitrogen concentration was consistently greater in container-grown trees in the open-air compared with trees grown in-ground and inside the screen houses. However, trees grown in-ground and inside the screen houses did not experience any severe leaf N deficiencies and were the largest trees, presenting the highest canopy surface area and LAI at the end of the study. The screen houses described here provided a better growing environment for in-ground grapefruit because the protective structures accelerated young tree growth compared with open-air plantings while protecting trees from HLB infection.

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Huanglongbing (HLB) disease is a threat to most citrus (Citrus sp.) producing areas and is associated with the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus. The disease is transmitted by the vector asian citrus psyllid [ACP (Diaphoria citri)]. Antipsyllid screen houses can potentially reduce and eliminate HLB development in young citrus plantings by excluding the insect vector. These structures are also anticipated to represent a new environmental platform to cultivate high-valued fresh citrus. The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the effect of screen houses on excluding infective ACP from inoculating grapefruit (Citrus ×paradisi) trees and determine changes on environmental conditions caused by the screen cloth. We tested two coverings [enclosed screen house and open-air (control)] and two planting systems (in-ground and container-grown), with four replications arranged in a split-plot experimental design. Psyllid counting and HLB diagnosis were performed monthly, and the antipsyllid screen excluded the HLB vector from the houses. ACP and HLB-positive trees were found only at the open-air plots. Weather monitoring was performed every 30 minutes from 22 Feb. to 31 July 2014. Solar radiation accumulation averaged 6.7 W·m−2·minute−1 inside the screen houses and 8.6 W·m−2·minute−1 in the open-air. Air temperature was greater inside the screen houses whereas wind gusts were higher in the open-air. Reference evapotranspiration accumulation averaged 3.2 mm·day−1 inside the screen houses and 4.2 mm·day−1 in the open-air. There was no difference in cumulative rainfall between screen houses and open-air. The antipsyllid screen houses reduced solar radiation, maximum wind gust, and reference evapotranspiration (ETo). The environmental conditions inside the protective screen houses are suitable for grapefruit production.

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