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  • Author or Editor: Davie Kadyampakeni x
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Huanglongbing [HLB (Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus)] is one of the most devastating diseases in citrus (Citrus sp.). Field observations in Florida have shown that citrus groves with high soil and irrigation water pH decline rapidly under HLB-prevalent conditions. It is worth noting that irrigation water pH has always been high in Florida; however, neither tree decline nor low productivity under such conditions has been an issue for citrus before HLB. Therefore, there is a need to determine if HLB increases citrus tree sensitivity to high-pH irrigation water. The objective of this research was to evaluate the molecular and physiological responses of healthy and HLB-affected citrus trees irrigated with water at pH levels of 5.8, 7.0, and 8.0. The results demonstrated that soil pH is positively correlated with irrigation water pH. Overall, regardless of disease occurrence, tree performance decreased as pH increased. HLB-affected trees at pH 8.0 had the greatest mortality (40%) and leaf drop (87%) and the lowest height growth (<1%) and leaf biomass (0.1 g). In contrast, HLB-affected trees at pH 5.8 had the lowest mortality (0%) and leaf drop (16%) and the greatest height growth (6.6%) and leaf biomass (5.5 g). Growth and survival data indicate that high pH had a less negative impact on healthy trees than HLB-affected trees, and that HLB symptoms were exacerbated at pH 8.0 compared with pH 5.8. A transcriptomic analysis of root tissue conducted at the end of the experiment further suggested that HLB-affected trees at pH 5.8 were actively detoxing stress-induced radicals and had increased growth and developmental processes with the downregulation of jasmonic acid biosynthesis compared with healthy trees. This implies that at pH 5.8, HLB-affected trees were under less stress than healthy trees. Compared with healthy trees, HLB-affected trees at pH 8.0 resulted in upregulated immune system processes, defense responses, and cell death; no processes were significantly downregulated in HLB-affected trees compared with healthy trees at pH 8.0. Physiological and molecular observations suggest an interaction between HLB and irrigation water pH whereby HLB symptoms are exacerbated in response to high irrigation water pH.

Open Access

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.

Free access

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

Understanding the role of Huanglongbing (HLB) caused by Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus on citrus (Citrus sp.) water use is critical for determining if changes in water management of commercial citrus orchards affected by this disease is necessary. Reference evapotranspiration (ETo) is the most used methodology for irrigation scheduling, particularly in light of reports that indicate the lack of water for irrigation will become a major problem in many places around the world including Florida. The objectives of this study were to determine citrus tree water relationship [water use, sap flow, and stem water potential (Ψ)] as affected by ETo and HLB. The study was initiated on Jan. 2014 on two sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) cultivars included Hamlin and Valencia grown in a fine sandy soil texture (sandy, siliceous, and hyberthermic Arenic Alaquods) in a greenhouse. Twelve weighing lysimeters of each cultivar (six HLB-affected and six nonaffected trees) were used to determine selected water relation parameters. Results indicated a significant reduction in water use, Ψ, and sap flow for affected trees when compared with nonaffected trees. Citrus water use of healthy trees during the 2-year study was 31% and 27% greater than HLB-affected trees for ‘Hamlin’ and ‘Valencia’, respectively. Lower water use of HLB-affected trees resulted in 10% and 15% greater available soil water content than healthy ‘Hamlin’ and ‘Valencia’ trees, respectively. Therefore, reducing the water supply for HLB-affected trees than healthy trees may be a desirable practice that would lead to significant water savings.

Full 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 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.

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