See the details of a citrus grower trial that showed the extreme importance of irrigation frequency for citrus trees.

The name of the game in the Florida citrus industry at this time is to keep citrus trees from being stressed to keep them as healthy as possible. The majority of Florida citrus trees are infected with citrus greening, also called HLB, and the current best practices include reducing tree stress. A recent Citrus Industry article shared the details of a citrus grower trial that proved the great importance of irrigation frequency for Florida citrus. Explore the details below.

The Importance of Irrigation Frequency

The details concerning the citrus grower trial that displayed the importance of irrigation frequency were shared by UF/IFAS associate professor of horticultural sciences, Tripti Vashisth, during the Florida Citrus Growers’ Institute in Avon Park, according to the article. The trials were testing the hypothesis that more frequent watering “would help because HLB-infected trees have diminished roots systems that would miss larger doses of water applied in more traditional applications.”

According to Vashisth, the grower trial consisted of comparing “a grower standard of irrigating every other day at 12 gallons/hour/acre for 2 hours versus three times daily for 20 minutes each run.” Vashisth made it clear that one group of citrus trees was not getting more water and another less; the trial used the same amount of water but varied the number of times a day the trees were irrigated.

According to the article, the trees that were irrigated three times per day had:

  • “More synchronized flowering.”
  • “More fruit set and higher returns.”
  • “While root mass was not measured in the trial, when canopy volume increases, it is expected that the roots are increasing as well.”

The article concluded with “Vashisth acknowledged that many growers might not have the time or technology to apply three daily applications. But she encouraged those that are able to at least attempt to apply water once daily. She said that is especially important during the drier months of the year from February through May. This is when flowering and fruit set is occurring. If trees are stressed due to water deficit during this time, they are more likely to suffer fruit drop and poor quality.”

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