Explore the lessons learned by a UF/IFAS research team about citrus through feral citrus growing in shade.

Did you know that citrus trees prefer shade? Researchers with UF/IFAS are researching citrus growing in shade after reports of healthy “feral” citrus, such as grapefruit trees growing near a hammock trail at Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, growing in shaded areas, according to a Citrus Industry article. See the details below.

Details of Citrus Growing in Shade

Researchers looked at the grapefruit trees growing at Circle B, testing for citrus greening and psyllid populations. They found that only three out of 60 trees were infected with citrus greening and zero psyllids after two weeks of setting sticky traps. Even in those trees that were infected, “none of them showed the characteristic physiological symptoms of” citrus greening, according to the article. This was all despite a “fully infected grove only a half-mile away and two others less than one mile away in other directions.”

Researchers believe that shade from a wood’s canopy hides the citrus from the attention of psyllids by hiding a citrus tree’s green leaves. Similarly, researchers believe the array of different plants in a wooded setting likely masks a scent of citrus trees as well.

Research has been ongoing into the benefits of growing citrus in shade with a multi-year field trial testing shade on sweet oranges. According to the article, researchers have learned that:

  • shade helps keep the citrus tree’s leaf temperatures cooler.
  • shade helps trees avoid water stress.
  • shade increases yield; researchers found that 30 percent shade caused yields to almost triple after just one year of treatment.

While the research is still going on, researchers advise that particle films, like kaolin clay, can benefit citrus trees by offering a form of “shade” to protect the trees from the sun and psyllids.

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.