Since the environmental conditions and cultural practices are unique in southwest Florida, a study was performed to determine the horticultural adaptability and performance of `Valencia' orange trees on four commercial rootstocks grown in a high-density planting. The trees were planted in 1991 on a flatwoods soil in a commercial grove at a density of 627 trees/ha. Leaf mineral concentration, growth, and fruit production and quality were measured 4 and 7 years after planting. Compared to Florida citrus leaf standards, leaf mineral concentration values were within the optimum to the high range. Yield efficiency expressed as kilograms of solids per cubed meter of canopy and juice quality in terms of juice content, soluble solids concentration, and kilograms of solids per box increased with tree age. Tree and fruit size were the highest for Volkamer lemon (Volk) and the lowest for Cleopatra mandarin (Cleo). Fruit yield was the highest for Volk. However, yield expressed in kilograms of solids per hectare was not significantly different between Volk and `Swingle' citrumelo (Swi) due to the higher solids per box for Swi. Yield efficiency was also higher for Swi than for Volk. Juice content and soluble solids in the fruit were higher for Swi and Cleo than for the lemon rootstocks. Financial analysis showed that at high-density planting, trees on Swi were the most profitable. On noncalcareous flatwoods soil, Swi is the best suited rootstock for high-density planting.
Because of the many concerns about fruit quality and fruit production of `Ambersweet' cultivar, this study was conducted in Florida to evaluate the performance of this cultivar budded on two rootstocks and grown in three locations. The effects of Cleopatra mandarin (CM) rootstock on tree growth, yield, fruit quality, and leaf mineral concentration were compared to those of Swingle citrumelo (SC). Although tree shape differed with the rootstock, no consistent difference was found in tree growth between the two rootstocks. Significant differences in yield, fruit size, and fruit quality were found between the two rootstocks. Fruit produced on CM were large with a rough, thick peel and poor color. Swingle citrumelo rootstock promoted higher yield and better fruit and juice quality than CM. Earlier fruit maturity and higher soluble solids and juice content were obtained from trees grown on the Flatwoods compared to trees grown on the central ridge. With the exception of magnesium, no consistent difference in leaf mineral concentration was found between the two rootstocks.
Salt tolerance of Carrizo citrange (CC), sour orange (SO), and Cleopatra mandarin (CM) rootstocks during seedling emergence (SE) and early seedling growth (SG) was studied under greenhouse conditions. Increasing salt (NaCl + CaSO4) concentration delayed and emergence, reduced SG, but did not affect emergence spread. At the first salinity level (5 mmol), emergence of the first seedling (EFS) was delayed by 2 to 3 days in CC and one day in SO but was not affected in CM. At the highest salt level (80 mmol), EFS was delayed by up to 6, 7, and 5 days for CC, SO, and CM, respectively. At the two lowest salinity levels (5 and 10 mmol), final percent emergence (FPE) was not affected in CC but was reduced in SO and CM while shoot biomass was reduced in CC but was not affected in SO and CM. At the 80 mmol salt level, FPE was reduced by 23% in CC and by 33% in SO and CM while SG was reduced by 70% in CC and by 60% in SO and CM. Among the rootstocks studied, the delay in emergence was not necessarily more salt sensitive than FPE. However, SG was generally more affected by salinity than SE, particularly at high salinity levels (20, 40, and 80 mmol).
Mongi Zekri and Lawrence R. Parsons
We determined whether the ability of sour orange seedlings to withstand saline irrigation water could be improved by the addition of calcium to the water. Sour orange (Citrus aurantium L.) seedlings were treated for 4 months with a nutrient solution containing either no NaCl, 40 mm NaCI, or 40 mm NaCl plus various concentrations of CaSO4, CaCl2, or KCl. After 4 months, the NaCl alone reduced root and shoot dry weights by ≈ 30% with no leaf necrosis. Addition of 1, 5, or 7.5 mm CaSO4 to solutions containing 40 mm NaCl significantly inhibited the NaCl-induced reductions in shoot dry weight. Addition of 7.5 mm CaCl2 or 7 mm KCl to the NaCl solution reduced leaf Na, but increased Cl to the toxicity level; hence, growth was not improved. The beneficial effect of CaSO4 was mainly attributed to a reduction in the accumulation of Na and Cl below the toxicity level in the leaves (0.4% and 0.5%, respectively) without a major increase in total dissolved salts. This study demonstrated that the beneficial effect of adding Ca depended on the anion associated with the Ca salt. Calcium sulfate, but not CaCl2, was able to overcome the damaging effect of NaCl to sour orange seedlings.
Mongi Zekri and Lawrence R. Parsons
The development of improved equipment for measuring soil water content has created the need for a better understanding of soil water drainage and movement. Without this understanding, it is impossible to know if an observed decrease in soil water content at a particular depth is due to evapotranspiration and/or continual drainage. This study was designed to determine the length of time for different soil depths of a Florida Candler fine sand to reach field capacity. A field site with no vegetation on it was saturated with water and covered with a plastic tarp to prevent evaporation. At 6- to 24-hour intervals, soil water content was measured gravimetrically in the top 15 cm (6 inches) and with the neutron probe from 30 to 150 cm (12 to 59 inches). The 15-cm depth reached field capacity after one day, but it took 4 days for the 30- to 150-cm depths to reach field capacity because of rewetting by water draining form higher horizons. The time required for drainage to stop must be considered when evaluating changes in soil water status at a particular depth. This is important for distinguishing between plant water uptake and drainage for different soil layers.Soil water characteristic curves of undisturbed soil samples, bulkdensity, porosity, and field capacity in situ were also determined for this soil. Field capacity values found in situ were compared to those found using the pressure plate technique. Laboratory values were higher than field values because the laboratory data were closer to hydrostatic conditions than the field data and the degree of saturation provided during wetting of the cores was higher in the laboratory. Water was not readily retained in Candler fine sand because the soil was very porous, infiltration rates were high, drainage was rapid, and water storage capacity was limited. Using field measurements, field capacity values of soil at different depths ranged from 4.8% to 6.2% volume for Candler fine sand. These are considered to be low values when compared to other types of soil.
Brian J. Boman, Mongi Zekri and Ed Stover
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.
Mongi Zekri and Robert C.J. Koo
Controlled-release sources of N and K were compared with soluble sources on young `Valencia' orange trees (Citrus sinensis [L.] Osb.). The effects of these fertilizers on leaf mineral concentration, soil chemical analysis, and tree growth were evaluated for 3 years. Soluble fertilizers were generally more readily available but had shorter residual effects on leaves and soil than controlled-release fertilizers. In the top 30 cm of soil, the plots treated with controlled-release N had 23% more total N than those treated with soluble N sources, while the plots fertilized with controlled-release K contained 56% more extractable K than those that received soluble K. Different effects on leaf and soil N between the two controlled-release N sources, sulfur-coated urea (SCU) and methylene urea (MU), were also found. With the use of controlled-release fertilizers, application frequency was reduced from a total of 15 to six applications with no adverse effects on tree growth, leaf mineral composition, or soil fertility during the first 3 years. Combining soluble and controlled-release fertilizers in a plant nutrition program offers an economical and effective strategy for citrus growers.
Roberto Núñez-Elisea, Bruce Schaffer, Mongi Zekri, Stephen K. O'Hair and Jonathan H. Crane
Most tropical fruit trees in southern Florida are grown in calcareous gravelly soil that is mechanically trenched to a depth of about 50 cm (about 20 inches). Fruit trees are often planted at the intersections of perpendicular trenches to provide space for root development. Tree root systems are concentrated in the top 10 to 20 cm (about 4 to 8 inches) of soil. Extreme soil rockiness has made it difficult to obtain consistent and reliable measurements of soil water status and to collect soil samples for constructing soil-water characteristic curves in the laboratory. Multisensor capacitance probes andlow-tension [0 to 40 kPa (centibars) (0 to 5.8 lb/inch2)] tensiometers were installed adjacent to star fruit (Averrhoa carambola L.) and avocado (Persea americana Mill.) trees in trenches to simultaneously measure volumetric soil water content and soil matric potential in situ. Capacitance probes consisted of four sensors centered at depths of 10, 20, 30, and 50 cm (3.9, 7.9, 11.8, and 19.7 inches). Tensiometers were installed at 10- and 30-cm depths, adjacent to the 10- and 30-cm deep capacitance sensors. Measurements obtained with both instruments were used to generate in situ soil-water characteristic curves. Rock fragments were more abundant at 30 cm than at 10 cm (71% to 73% versus 26% to 38% of bulk soil volume, respectively) soil depth, which limited the precision of tensiometers at the greater depth. In situ soil water characteristic curves for the 10-cm soil depth can be used to determine parameters needed for irrigation scheduling by techniques such as the water budget method.