The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) hosted a water and nutrient management workshop at the Citrus Research and Education Center in mid-February. In addition to seminars, a grove tour was provided to demonstrate a nutrient-rate trial currently underway at the center.
Kelly Morgan, UF/IFAS professor of crop nutrition, spoke on recent activity to update citrus best management practices (BMPs), which are administered by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).
The updates were authorized by the state legislature last year under Senate Bill 1000. The legislation allocated funds to conduct research to support modification to citrus nutrition rates. The research is beginning to show some results, which will show up in the next UF/IFAS Citrus Production Guide, according to Morgan.
One change to UF/IFAS recommendations will be to lower the soil pH for better nutrient uptake. “We have found that as soil pH goes up, yields come down, and tree health declines,” Morgan said. “For that reason, we will lower recommended pH levels from 6.5 to 7 down to 6.0 to 6.5.”
Research also has revealed tweaks necessary in nitrogen requirements. “We have found that about 200 pounds of nitrogen per acre appears to be the rate to maintain the tree’s health and is best for fruit production,” he said. “That will probably be a change forthcoming in our nutrient recommendations for citrus. We don’t have quite enough data yet but expect that to come.”
Under the legislation passed last year, citrus growers were given an exemption to allow certified crop advisors to make site-specific nutrient recommendations for individual groves to allow more flexibility in current BMP regulations.
Morgan said that program is still being developed and is somewhat complicated by the fact that there are not that many crop advisors that are certified to make such recommendations. In addition, the halt on BMP inspections by FDACS after Hurricane Ian slowed things down. So, there’s details yet to be sorted out in the site-specific program.
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