Explore what two and a half years of UF/IFAS research on cover crops in citrus has revealed for Florida citrus growers.

UF/IFAS researcher Sarah Strauss has been studying the uses and benefits of cover crops in citrus for the past two and a half years to explore the uses and benefits of cover crops for citrus trees. She presented the results of the research to date at a July virtual educational session hosted by the Citrus Research and Development Foundation and Florida Citrus Mutual, according to a Citrus Industry article. Explore what the research has found so far.

Research Results on Cover Crops in Citrus

Researchers and growers have been hoping that cover crops in citrus could be an avenue for helping citrus trees to deal with the damaging symptoms of citrus greening. Strauss is testing cover crops in a Southwest Florida citrus plot with 20-year-old trees with multiple yearly plantings in middle rows. So far, the research has shown:

  • “Use of the crops resulted in a significant increase in soil organic matter and microbial abundance.”
  • “Soil nitrogen increased where legume crops were used.”
  • “Crops reduced weed pressure in treated row middles, which reduced mowing frequency.”
  • “Crops changed soil microbial nitrogen cycling.”
  • Cover crops have not yet been shown to increase yields.
  • “Use of the crops has also not yet caused changes in tree canopy or roots.”

Cover crops are used with many different crops to reduce weeds, soil erosion and soil compaction, and to increase soil organic matter, which can influence plant growth, according to the article.

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