October 11th saw the Citrus Nutrition Day at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred. University of Florida researcher Jude Grosser reported on HLB, also known as citrus greening, and root health. According to Grosser’s report, HLB causes citrus tree roots to miss key nutrients, affecting overall citrus nutrition.  He also discussed possible solutions, what he calls “hybrid nutrition programs.”

Citrus Nutrition Findings

Grosser maintains that the fight against HLB has caused too much focus on leaves. “We’ve gotten kind of too focused on what’s going on in the leaves and kind of forgot about the roots,” Grosser said in an article on CitrusIndustry.net.

“So I just started looking at the roots and found that deficiencies of these important nutrients were greater in the roots than they are in the leaves,” Grosser continued. “The roots are responsible for mining and delivering the nutrients to the top of the tree. So when that ability is compromised, it’s no wonder that the tree can’t stay healthy and produce fruit.”

Citrus Nutrition Solutions

Grosser maintained that he has a solution to improve citrus nutrition through hybrid nutrition programs. Such programs use multiple sources of nutrients in the delivery system to constantly deliver fertilizer in the root zone. “It’s combining different delivery methods to make sure that you have a constant supply of all the important nutrients over the entire year,” Grosser shared. He gave the example of using both controlled release fertilizer and liquid fertilizer.

Grosser offered that the he believed improving citrus nutrition through hybrid nutrition programs are a more cost-effective way to combat HLB, rather than the $2,000 an acre that’s currently being spent to control Asian citrus psyllids.

He does caution that process takes some time to generate results; it can take a year or longer to put a good hybrid nutrition program into action and reap the benefits. “You have to regrow a whole new feeder root system and have the tree in a balanced state where you can maintain that,” Grosser said. “That whole process takes time.”

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