A UF/IFAS-led workshop recently looked at accessing citrus tree root growth to see the effects of citrus greening on root growth.

Researchers continue to explore exactly how citrus greening, also called HLB, affects citrus trees and harvests, and it’s clear that citrus tree root growth is directly affected by the disease. Growers learned about how citrus greening affects root growth at a recent UF/IFAS-hosted workshop in Sebring, according to a Citrus Industry article. See the details below.

How Citrus Greening Affects Citrus Tree Root Growth

Citrus greening stunts leaf growth and reduces harvests, so it seems contrary that the disease actually increases citrus tree root growth rather than reduces it. UF/IFAS researcher Evan Johnson, who led the workshop, said, “So stimulating more root growth is not going to give you your whole tree health response and yield response you expected. It may actually reduce your yield and increase fruit drop because of the extra resources the tree is putting into the root system.”

Johnson advised growers to check the root systems of their citrus trees. According to the article, Johnson maintained growers can brush the “soil away with [a] hand and examining roots one-quarter to one-half inch below the soil surface,” looking to see if they have the expected amount of growth, and “whether roots are dying or healthy.”

The root system is key to the health of the citrus tree. “It’s important to know how the pests and pathogens and environmental conditions are affecting the root health of your trees.” He also added that “Establishing a good, healthy structural root system in a new planting is really important before HLB really takes hold.”

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