Since citrus trees need an optimal environment, make sure you are following these UF/IFAS tips for drought stress in citrus.

Drought season in Florida poses a big problem for citrus trees, especially due to citrus greening, also known as HLB. HLB causes citrus trees to have a smaller root ball, and that leads to a lessened ability to take up water and nutrients. The UF/IFAS Tip of the Week article shared tips for combating drought stress in citrus. See the information below.

Fighting Drought Stress in Citrus

The article maintains that drought stress in citrus can be caused by “insufficient rainfall, high temperatures, soil water deficits and poor irrigation practices are primary contributors to drought stress;” and that “factors such as soil compaction, poor drainage and excessive salinity can exacerbate drought conditions by limiting the tree’s ability to access water and nutrients from the soil.”

The impacts of drought stress in citrus include:

  • “Impacting their overall health and productivity.’
  • “Reduced water availability inhibits photosynthesis, leading to decreased carbohydrate production and stunted growth”
  • “Weaken citrus trees’ defenses against pests and diseases, making them more susceptible to infestations and infections.”
  • “Fruit yield and quality may also decline due to inadequate water supply, resulting in smaller fruits with compromised flavor and nutritional content.

The article shared that the following management practices will have the greatest impact in helping citrus trees to deal with the stress from drought:

  1. “Optimize Irrigation Practices:Implement efficient irrigation systems, such as drip irrigation or microsprinklers, to deliver water directly to the tree’s root zone while minimizing water loss through evaporation.” Research has shown that frequent watering is best.
  2. “Soil Management:Improve soil structure and water infiltration by incorporating organic matter, such as compost or manure, into the soil.”
  3. “Pruning and Thinning:Prune citrus trees to remove dead or diseased branches and thin out dense foliage to reduce water competition among branches.”
  4. “Nutrient Management: Maintain balanced nutrition by fertilizing citrus trees with appropriate micronutrients and macronutrients, especially potassium and calcium, which play essential roles in regulating water uptake and cellular functions.”
  5. “Water Conservation:Implement water conservation measures, such as rainwater harvesting, soil moisture sensors and recycled water use, to optimize water utilization and minimize waste.”

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