Florida | Florida Agricultural Experiment Station | Southern Region
A five-year study showed that young citrus trees grew faster when watered with drip irrigation containing a small amount of fertilizer.
Citrus fruit is Florida’s No. 1 agricultural commodity, with a total economic impact of $10.7 billion annually, including multiplier effects. Citrus growers are always seeking new ways of cutting production costs without affecting yield and fruit quality, and some of their goals include reducing the need for irrigation and fertilizer application.
Kelly Morgan, a UF/IFAS associate professor with the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee, has long focused his research on growing crops such as citrus and sugarcane, using the smallest possible quantities of inputs such as water and fertilizer.
Morgan led a research team that conducted a five-year study showing that young citrus trees grew more than 30% faster when watered with drip irrigation containing a tiny amount of fertilizer. These trees also yielded nearly double the quantity of fruit expected in their first few years of productivity. Those gains represent a huge benefit for Florida citrus growers, who’ve had to replant trees far more frequently in recent years due to citrus greening disease, and need new trees to produce fruit quickly. The study shows that growers using Morgan’s system will need less irrigation and fertilizer than growers using conventional methods.
Citrus fruit is Florida's signature crop, with a total economic impact of about $10.7 billion annually.