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  • Author or Editor: Fernando Alferez x
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Huanglongbing (HLB), an important citrus disease, causes many physiological and anatomical changes such as phloem dysfunction, imbalance in carbohydrate partitioning, decrease in leaf chlorophyll, and nutritional imbalances in the affected trees, ultimately resulting in tree decline. In Florida, HLB is associated with phloem-limited bacteria Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), and it is vectored by the Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri). No cure for HLB has been found, and most of the HLB management efforts have been focused on vector control or exclusion, improved nutrient management, and the use of HLB-tolerant rootstocks. Individual protective covers (IPCs) are a type of psyllid exclusion tool that is increasingly used by growers for HLB management of newly planted citrus trees. However, no studies have evaluated their influence on citrus tree physiology. This study investigated the effect of IPCs and different rates of insecticides on CLas infection and different physiological attributes, including soluble (glucose, fructose, and sucrose) and nonsoluble (starch) carbohydrates, leaf chlorophyll, and leaf macronutrients and micronutrients over 2.5 years of field growth. The treatments (tree cover and insecticides rate) were applied in newly planted ‘Valencia’ sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) trees grafted on ‘Cleopatra’ (C. reticulata) rootstock. The IPCs prevented CLas transmission and accumulation of foliar starch, sucrose, and glucose commonly associated with HLB. IPC-covered trees had more leaf chlorophyll-a and chlorophyll-b than noncovered trees and more leaf nitrogen (N) and zinc (Zn). Our findings suggest that IPCs effectively prevent CLas infection and maintain the physiological health of young citrus trees under heavy HLB pressure. Therefore, IPCs are recommended as an important component of integrated pest management for this devastating disease.

Open Access

Several citrus varieties, including `Navel' oranges, `Marsh' grapefruit and `Fallglo' tangerines are prone to develop postharvest peel pitting at nonchilling temperatures. The disorder is characterized by depressions in flavedo that ultimately affect oil glands. Increasing evidence indicates that changes in peel water status during postharvest handling of fruit plays a major role in the appearance of the disorder. Peel pitting was triggered when fruit were transferred from low to high relative humidity (RH) consistently in several citrus growing areas. A transient increase in fruit ethylene production and ABA content was observed within the first 24 hours after transfer from low to high RH. Water potential decreased with storage at low RH in flavedo and albedo, and recovered faster in flavedo than in albedo cells upon transfer to high RH. The differential recovery in water potential between flavedo and albedo is postulated to cause collapse of external albedo layers and pitting. The effect of climatic conditions in the field at harvest was also examined. Harvesting fruit at low RH induced more severe pitting after storage than harvesting at high RH. In addition, increasing hours of low RH storage prior to storage at high RH resulted in increased pitting. The results demonstrate that change in peel water status is a major factor leading to the development of postharvest peel pitting in citrus.

Free access

Several citrus cultivars including `Marsh' grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macf.) and `Fallglo' tangerine [Bower citrus hybrid (C. reticulata Blanco × C. reticulata × C. paradisi) × Temple tangor (C. reticulata × C. sinensis L. Osbeck)] are prone to develop postharvest peel pitting at nonchilling temperatures. This disorder is characterized by depressions in flavedo that ultimately affect oil glands. Although the fundamental cause for this disorder has not been well defined, increasing evidence indicates that alteration in peel water status during postharvest handling of fruit plays a major role. `Fallglo' tangerines developed postharvest peel pitting when transferred from low (30%) to high (90%) relative humidity (RH) storage. To determine the number of hours of dehydration prior to storage at high RH sufficient to induce peel pitting in `Marsh' grapefruit and `Fallglo' tangerines, fruit were exposed to low RH conditions for increasing periods of time and then washed, coated with commercial shellac-based wax, and stored at high RH. Only 2 hours of low RH storage were sufficient to induce peel pitting in `Fallglo' and `Marsh' after transfer to high RH. The severity of pitting in `Fallglo' tangerines was greater than in `Marsh' grapefruit. Weight loss of fruit at the end of low RH storage and peel pitting after 3 weeks of storage at high RH were significantly correlated. RH conditions in the field at the time of harvest affected susceptibility to peel pitting in both cultivars. Peel pitting was more severe when fruit were harvested at low field RH than high field RH when followed by treatments that induce peel pitting. The data suggest that harvesting susceptible cultivars at high RH, and minimizing exposure to low RH after harvest, could reduce the commercial impact of postharvest peel pitting.

Free access

Abscission is a natural plant process that culminates in the removal of organs from the parent plant. Control of abscission remains an important goal of agriculture, but events that initiate and transduce abscission signals have not been well defined. An understanding of these events may reveal pathways that can be targeted to control abscission. The compound 5-chloro-3-methyl-4-nitro-1H-pyrazole (CMNP) is a pyrazole-derivative that induces abscission selectively in mature citrus (Citrus sinensis) fruit when applied to the canopy. Peel contact is essential for efficacy. Previous work identified CMNP as an uncoupler. Timing of CMNP-induced events in citrus flavedo indicated that increased reactive oxygen species and electrolyte leakage occurred within 30 minutes and 2 hours after application, whereas reduced ATP content was measured 3 hours after application. Phospholipase A2 (PLA2) and lipoxygenase (LOX) activities, and lipid hydroperoxide (LPO) levels increased in flavedo of citrus fruit peel treated with CMNP, indicating that the lipid signaling pathway was activated. A specific inhibitor of PLA2 activity, aristolochic acid (AT), reduced CMNP-induced increases in PLA2 and LOX activities and LPO levels in citrus flavedo and greatly reduced abscission, suggesting that production of phospholipid-derived signals influence abscission process. However, AT treatment failed to halt the reduction in ATP content, indicating that reduction in ATP preceded the increase in PLA2 activity and the biological response. The results demonstrate a link between lipid signaling and abscission in citrus.

Free access

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.

Open Access

1-MCP is a gaseous ethylene binding inhibitor that controls or delays ethylene-related postharvest problems in a range of horticultural commodities. Our previous work demonstrated that exposure of calamondin to 1-MCP 16 hours before canopy sprays of ethephon greatly reduced unwanted leaf drop while only partially inhibiting the ability of ethephon to cause fruit loosening. The objective of this work was to determine whether formulated 1-MCP (SmartFresh) could be used in the field to stop defoliation caused by abscission agent applications without significantly altering abscission agent-induced fruit loosening. Spray solutions containing 400 mg·L-1 ethephon with 0, 1, 2.5, and 5 mm 1-MCP were applied to canopies of `Hamlin' and `Valencia' (Citrus sinensis). Timing of 1-MCP applications was a) 24 hours before, b) in combination with, or c) 24 hours after ethephon. Ethephon at 400 mg·L-1 significantly reduced fruit detachment force (FDF) but caused >70% leaf drop within 15 days after application in both cultivars. Applications of 1-MCP reduced ethephon-associated leaf abscission but had little effect on the ability of ethephon to reduce FDF. Timing of 1-MCP applications did not affect the ability of ethephon to cause fruit loosening; however, the best consistent treatment for control of leaf drop was achieved with the combined application of 5 mm 1-MCP and 400 mg·L-1 ethephon. 1-MCP was used in combination with the abscission agents coronatine, methyl jasmonate (MeJa) and 5-chloro-3-methyl-4-nitro-1H-pyrazole (CMNP) to determine its effect on leaf drop and fruit loosening. Leaf drop in trees treated with ethephon, coronatine, and MeJa was reduced by addition of 1-MCP. However, fruit loosening was largely prevented when 1-MCP was used in combination with coronatine or MeJa. Like ethephon, CMNP-induced fruit loosening was not affected by 1-MCP. The results demonstrate the ability to control ethephon-induced leaf abscission without affecting mature fruit loosening by targeting ethylene binding in citrus.

Free access

The effects of 2 consecutive years of annual defoliation during the harvest season on fruit size, yield, juice quality, leaf size and number were examined in trees of the midseason cultivar `Hamlin' and the late-season cultivar `Valencia' orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.]. In `Hamlin', removal of up to 50% of the leaves in late November had no effect on fruit yield, fruit number, fruit size, soluble solids yield, juice °Brix, and °Brix to acid ratio of juice the following year. In `Valencia', removal of 50% of the leaves in late March decreased fruit yield and soluble solids yield but did not affect Brix or the Brix to acid ratio of the juice. Leaf size of new flush was reduced by removal of 50% of the leaves in both cultivars but there was little effect on total canopy size. There were no measured effects of removing 25% of leaves from tree canopies. Thus, canopy growth, fruit yield, fruit quality, and leaf size were not negatively impacted when annual defoliations did not exceed 25% of the total canopy leaf area in `Valencia' and `Hamlin' orange trees for two consecutive years. Overall, fruit weight increased linearly with increasing ratio of leaf area to fruit number, suggesting that fruit enlargement can be limited by leaf area.

Free 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 effect of annual defoliation over two consecutive years on fruit yield, juice quality, leaf size, and number was examined in 11-year-old `Hamlin' and 13-year-old `Valencia' orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.] trees. Removal of up to 50% of the leaves in late November had no effect on fruit number, fruit weight, fruit yield, soluble solids yield, juice °Brix, and °Brix: acid ratio of juice in `Hamlin' oranges. In `Valencia' oranges, removal of up to 50% of the leaves in late March also did not affect °Brix or the °Brix: acid ratio of the juice, but decreased fruit yield and soluble solids yield. Leaf size was reduced by removal of 50% of the leaves in both cultivars. Removal of up to 50% leaves in late November had no significant influence on net CO2 assimilation (aCO2) of the subsequent spring flush leaves in early May in `Hamlin' oranges, whereas aCO2 of `Valencia' spring flush leaves in early May increased linearly with increasing levels of defoliation in late March. The results indicate that fruit yield, fruit quality, leaf size, and number were not negatively impacted when annual defoliations did not exceed 25% of the total canopy leaf area for `Valencia' and `Hamlin' oranges for two consecutive years. Overall, in whole `Hamlin' or `Valencia' orange trees, fruit weight increased linearly with increasing ratio of leaf area to fruit, suggesting that fruit enlargement depends on available photosynthate and can be limited by leaf area.

Free access