The relationship between intensity of flowering and various aspects of cropping are reviewed for fruit species. Relatively light flowering can limit yield in most fruit species. This commonly occurs in young trees that have not achieved full production and in “off” years for varieties that display alternate bearing. When trees mature, many species will carry fruit numbers that exceed commercially desired levels, resulting in excessively small fruit and accentuating alternate bearing. The economic disadvantages of excess cropload have resulted in considerable research on fruit thinning and widespread commercial application of this practice. Heavy flowering intensity in some crop species results in economic disadvantages beyond the problems of excessive cropload and resultant small fruit size. Many species flower profusely and have initial fruit set that greatly exceeds tree capacity, resulting in abscission of numerous flowers and fruitlets. Abscised organs can represent a substantial amount of carbohydrates and nutrients, compromising availability of these materials at critical periods in flower and fruit development. The potential implications of this process are best exemplified in `Navel' orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck], where an increase in flowering beyond intermediate intensity results in a reduction in both initial fruit set and final fruit yield at harvest. In several species, there is evidence that fruit size may be reduced by excessive flowering, even when cropload is quickly adjusted to an acceptable level. These data suggest that further research on the advantages of controlling flowering intensity is warranted.
Incidence and severity of Huanglongbing (HLB) disease were assessed in Apr. 2010 among eight citrus cultivars representing diverse scion types growing in commercial groves in Florida's Indian River region, an area with a high incidence of HLB. In each grove, 20 trees of each cultivar were rated for visual HLB symptoms and leaves were collected for quantitative polymerase chain reaction quantification of Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), the presumptive causal agent of HLB. There was a strong correlation between HLB rating and CLas titer (titer represented by Ct, r2 = 0.37 and 0.40, for whole tree and leaf sample, respectively, both with P < 0.0001) across all cultivars and groves. Although incidence and severity of HLB varied considerably among the groves, scion-specific differences were apparent, even when analyses excluded potentially confounding grove effects. ‘Temple’ tangor showed the most consistently low incidence of HLB symptoms and CLas titer; in contrast, ‘Murcott’ tangor and ‘Minneola’ tangelo had the highest incidence of HLB symptoms and highest CLas titer. These results suggest useful resistance to HLB with reduced symptoms and reduced CLas titer may be found in conventional scion cultivars and further work is needed to assess this potential and its commercial value.
Sour orange (Citrus aurantium) has been the dominant citrus rootstock in the Indian River region of Florida since the initial plantings in the 1880s. Use of this rootstock in new plantings has been rare since 1990 because of heightened concern about decline strains of citrus tristeza virus (CTV), to which this rootstock is highly susceptible. Because the proportion of trees remaining on sour orange rootstock and the rate of decline among them are important in predicting the economic consequences for the Indian River citrus industry, two surveys of rootstock usage were conducted for citrus in this growing region. In the first survey, growers were asked about rootstock usage and problems observed across all types of citrus, and responses represented 35% of acreage. In the second survey, growers were restricted to rootstock usage and grower observations on decline for grapefruit (C. paradisi), and responses represented 53% of acreage. Even though 44% of all current Indian River grove area has been planted since 1987, when use of sour orange for new plantings largely ceased, 48% of all citrus and 55% of all grapefruit grove area are currently on sour orange rootstock. The percentage of grapefruit trees on sour orange rootstock that showed significantly health decline in 2000 was 8% based on grower reports. The other root-stocks representing substantial commercial grove area have known problems and limitations that are likely to prevent any of them from gaining the prominence once held by sour orange. Swingle citrumelo (C. paradisi × Poncirus trifoliata) at about 25% of grove area, Cleopatra mandarin (Citrus reticulata) at about 8%, and Smooth Flat Seville (Citrus hybrid) at about 3% all represented similar acreage for grapefruit and across all cultivars, while Carrizo citrange (C. sinensis × P. trifoliata) use was reported for 4% of grapefruit and 13% overall. Evaluation and development of new rootstocks is vitally important for the Indian River area, especially for soils with significant clay and calcium content.
Analysis of apple (Malus×domestica Borkh.) and citrus thinning experiments indicates that the relationships between cropload, fruit size, and total yield can be used to assess optimal cropload for highest crop value. Mean fruit size increased and total yield declined as the cropload (number of fruit/cm2 trunk cross-sectional area) was reduced through the use of chemical thinners. Because crop value is influenced by fruit size and total yield, intermediate croploads gave the highest economic returns in all experiments evaluated. For `Empire' apple, croploads greater than those expected to provide good return bloom often produced the highest crop value for a single year. In citrus, optimal crop values resulted from a broad range of intermediate croploads. A method is described to analyze optimum cropload from thinning experiments.
Grapefruit are susceptible to melanose from initial set until fruit diam. is 6-7 cm, which can span 3 months. Common Indian River melanose-control practice has been application of Cu fungicides at petal fall, with reapplication every three wks. through the infection period. Research data were previously used to develop a computer model to estimate Cu levels on fruit and indicate when reapplication is needed to prevent potential infection. The purpose of this study was to compare melanose control using spray timings suggested by the computer model vs. standard 3 week intervals vs. non-sprayed checks and was conducted over 3 years in mature grapefruit groves near Ft. Pierce, Fla. All applications were made using airblast at 1180 L· ha-1. Melanose and melanose-like Cu injury could not be distinguished and were combined in a melanose/Cu marking (MCM) score for each fruit. Separate fruit samples from the interior and exterior of tree canopies were randomly selected from each tree. In no year was there a significant difference in interior fruit MCM from computer model vs. calendar spray timings when treated with standard rates of Cu fungicide. However, rainfall never occurred when calendar-sprayed fruit were projected to be at low Cu levels. In 2 of 3 yrs. exterior fruit in the non-sprayed checks had less MCM than those from trees treated with Cu, indicating that Cu injury predominated over melanose on exterior fruit. In these fruit, MCM increased linearly with maximum fruit Cu concentration, which was lower on trees managed using the computer model. The computer model appears to be a sound approach to managing melanose, but economic benefit over calendar-based spray timing may only become apparent when practiced over numerous groves and seasons.
Hundreds of fruit thinning experiments have been reported for various fruits including apple (Malus × domestica) and citrus (Citrus spp.). Unfortunately, very few of these reports attempt to evaluate the economic implications of thinning. Researchers routinely report significant cropload reduction accompanied by an increase in fruit size. Although these are crucial responses to thinning, they are not always associated with an increase in crop value, which is the commercial justification for thinning. The few economic studies summarized in this review illustrate that the economic effects of fruit thinning vary widely, and successful thinning often reduces returns to the grower, at least in the year of treatment. It is important to quantify the economic benefits of thinning and identify croploads that balance the trade-off between yield and fruit size to provide optimal crop value. Future thinning research should report total yields and fruit size distributions to permit economic assessments and comparisons of treatments.
Off-target deposition of pesticidal spray material is both an economic loss to the grower and a potential environmental problem in southern Florida. This study evaluated the reduction in non-target deposition of copper resulting from different approaches to spraying row-ends in typical Indian River citrus (Citrus) production systems. Using copper as a model pesticide, applications were made in a commercial citrus grove in June and July 2001. Non-target deposition on the water surface within an adjacent drainage canal, as well as on surrounding ground surfaces, was measured using Teflon spray targets. Specific row-end spraying scenarios included: 1) leaving both banks of nozzles on while turning; 2) turning the outside-facing nozzles off (leaving tree-facing nozzles on); 3) turning both banks of nozzles off at the tree trunk; and 4) turning all nozzles off at the end of the foliage of the last tree within the row. Deposition directly onto surface water contained within drainage canals was reduced significantly when nozzles were turned off at the last tree within a row, or when the outside-facing nozzles-only were turned off through the turn. Likewise, deposition was reduced on ground surfaces adjacent to the sprayer under the same scenarios. No differences were observed on ground surfaces on the opposite side of the canal. Significant reductions in direct application of agrichemicals to surface waters within Indian River citrus production groves can be achieved by turning nozzles off when turning from one tree row into the next.