UF/IFAS soil microbiologist with cover crops for citrus research team says cover crops are “really encouraging.”

Research into cover crops for citrus has been ongoing since observers noticed that the citrus trees in one grove were thriving despite being infected with citrus greening. When it was discovered that the grove owner was using cover crops and composting, research began. Sarah Strauss, a soil microbiologist with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), said the research into cover crops is “really encouraging,” in a Citrus Industry article. Read the details below.

Cover Crops for Citrus

While the research is in the early stages, Strauss said there are “really encouraging results” in the on year of cover crop for citrus research. Researchers will be looking at fruit yield and quality, economic benefits, and root growth and density, according to the article.

Cover crops add soil organic matter, an important undertaking as Florida’s sandy soils have nearly zero organic matter. Soil organic matter improves soil’s water-holding capacity, nutrient cycling and retention, and provides nutrients for microbes. It’s thought that the increase in soil health helps citrus trees to combat citrus greening.

Cover crops also also provide nitrogen, reduce soil erosion, and increase soil moisture, which are all beneficial for citrus trees and the grove.

So far, researchers have seen increases in soil organic matter and soil microbes, and weed density has being reduced by up to 84 percent. The researchers are using Nitrogen-fixing crops like cowpeas, vetches, crimson clover, sunn hemp, and perennial peanut, and other cover crops that offer nematode management or weed suppression. Strauss said in the article that the researchers are using a variety of cover crops for “better overall coverage of different strategies.”

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.