A UF/IFAS professor maintains that citrus irrigation management is key to optimizing water use and increase fruit yield.

Water is an important factor in Florida’s citrus groves, given the sandy soils that have poor water retention and the drought-like periods that can occur. Thus, citrus irrigation management becomes a key factor in the health of citrus trees, especially with the effects of citrus greening added to the mix. Davie Kadyampakeni, an assistant professor of soil and water sciences with UF/IFAS, shared recommendations on optimal irrigation management in a Citrus Industry article. See the details below.

Citrus Irrigation Management Recommendations

Kadyampakeni maintained in the article that citrus greening causes between 40 percent to 70 percent root loss, which compromises a citrus tree’s ability to take up both water and nutrients. “Maintaining daily irrigation is important in managing huanglongbing (HLB)-affected trees. By irrigating daily, this will reduce tree water stress and improve tree water use.” Fruit yield is also improved by adequate citrus irrigation management.

Recommendations Kadyampakeni shared include:

  • Keep water in the top 12 inches of the soil (because this is where 70 percent of the roots are) in order to improve water use and reduce nutrient leaching.
  • Keep the moisture content at optimal levels at all times, even if irrigating multiple times a day is necessary.
  • Use soil moisture sensors to guide when, where, and how much to irrigate. Sensors should be placed in the top 12 inches of soil, with multiple sensors located throughout the grove. Learn about the grove’s soil water-holding capacity and tree root-zone depth.
  • Avoid over-watering. “We recommend growers who practice frequent irrigation to irrigate for shorter durations of about 20 to 30 minutes. This will be ideal for optimizing tree health,” Kadyampakeni said in the article.
  • Keep informed about irrigation research, such as for plastic mulch, which could create up to a 40 percent water savings.

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.