Transpiration is essentially a function of the amount of leaves present. With no leaves, there is no transpiration and no water use. The extreme case is tree removal. If canopies are pruned there is reduced water use. The more canopy reduction, the more transpiration reduction. Most citrus produces terminal flowers, so there is also a reduction in yield, but there is also typically an increase in fruit size as competitive fruit growing points are removed. There is a balance between yield reduction and tree water use, but typically a 25% canopy reduction results in a 25% decrease in tree water use (Romero, 2006).
The severity of the drought will determine how drastic the canopy should be trimmed. The trees can be skeletonized so that only the main structural branches are left. The tree is whitewashed to prevent sunburn and the water is turned off. As the tree gradually leafs out, the water is gradually reapplied in small amounts. It's important to check soil moisture to make sure the tree do not get too much or too little water. The trees if pruned in the winter will often flower a year later in the spring, but normal production will often take three years for the trees to recover their previous yields.
Skeletonizing should first be practiced on orchards that are the poorest producing. In those areas that get too much wind and have lots of wind scarring or elevated water use, those areas that are most prone to frost damage, those areas that have been always problematic, such as fruit theft. In areas that are healthy and a new variety has been contemplated, this is the time to topwork and replace that old variety. In areas that have been poor producing from disease, this is the time to get rid of those trees.
Canopy sprays of kaolinite clay have shown some promise in reducing transpiration with negligible yield reduction (Skewes, 2013; Wright, 2000). If these are used, they should be done under the advisement of the packing house to make sure the clay can be removed in the packing house.
With a reduced canopy, there are often other benefits besides water reduction. There is better spray coverage for pest control. There is also reduced fertilizer use. New growth is normally coming from nutrients that are now being mined by a large root system and fertilizer applications can be significantly reduced or eliminated altogether for a year until fruit set recommences.
Kerns, D. and G. Wright. 2000. Protective and Yield Enhancement qualities of yield of kaolin on lemon. In: Eds. G. Wright and D. Kilby, AZ1178: "2000 Citrus and Deciduous Fruit and Nut Research Report," College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Arizona. http://extension.arizona.edu/sites/extension.arizona.edu/files/pubs/az1178_3.pdf
Skewes, M. 2013 Citrus Drought Survival and Recovery Trial. HAL Project Number CT08014 (16/12/2013). SARDI. http://pir.sa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/238414/SARDI-Citrus-Drought-Survival-Recovery-Trial.pdf
Navel trees skelotinized and topworked, ready for rain and more profits in the future.
Citrus response to irrigation water deficits have demonstrated that sensitivity of yield to water stress is dependent on the phenological phase in which water stress was applied. Adequate water supply is of major importance during citrus flowering and fruit set. A second critical period coincides with the period when fruit growth is rapid (fruit set to harvest). Depending on the level of water stress developed, the abscission of flowers and young fruits will be affected in the first case, as will fruit size in the second case.
For navels and mandarins it is possible to identify these critical periods in the crop and possibly allow stress when the trees are not in those critical periods. Some varieties though are complicated by having overlap of critical periods when another crop is present at the same time. Valencias can have two crops on the tree at the same time in spring and into summer harvest and coastal lemons can have fruit in all stages from fruit set to mature fruit at all times of the year. In the case of navels, reductions of applied water by 25% or more have resulted in no fruit yield reductions, if those water reductions do not occur during critical periods (Goldhamer, 2006; Domingo, 1996; Hutton et al, 2007). Water reductions during the rapid expansion period can result in significant fruit size reduction, though, and this period should be avoided if fruit size is critical to marketing (Goldhamer, 2006; Hutton et al, 2007).
In the case of coastal lemons, the stress should be avoided when the period of the most profitable crop is in rapid expansion, this is normally the summer crop. Each grower would need to identify, when the most profitable fruit size is important. Growers in areas that have more summer heat than the coast might practice a ‘Verdelli' irrigation practice, where water is withheld for a period of time, in order to force flowering that can often result in more summer fruit being harvested the following year (Maranto and Hake, 1985).
Domingo, R., Ruiz-Sanchez, M.C., Sanchez-Blanco, M. J. and Torrecillas. A.1996. Water Relations, growth and yield of ‘Fino' lemon trees under regulated deficit irrigation. Irrig. Sci.16: 115-123 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02215619#page-1
Goldhamer, D. and N. O'Connell. 2006. Using Regulated Deficit Irrigation to Optimize Fruit Size in Late Harvest Navels. Citrus Research Board. http://citrusresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2006-GOLDHAMER1.pdf
Hutton RJ, Landsberg JJ, Sutton BG. 2007. Timing irrigation to suit citrus phenology: a means of reducing water use without compromising fruit yield and quality. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture (47): 71–80. http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/EA05233
Maranto, J. and K. Hake. 1985. Verdelli summer lemons: a new option for California growers. California Agriculture 39(5): 4. https://ucanr.edu/repositoryfiles/ca3905p4-62870.pdf
Phenological stages of navel orange.
The Citrus Research Board in conjunction with the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) held their annual grower seminar on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) Palm Desert Center. Seminars also took place in Santa Paula, CA on June 25th and in Exeter, CA on July 1st. Speakers from all over the state from different agencies shared their knowledge and expertise with the group.
Mark Hoddle, a Biological Control Specialist at UCR gave an update of the biological control of Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). The ACP's natural enemy, Tamarixia radiata has been successful since its release in Southern California in 2011. The Tamarixia kills the ACP nymphs either by parasitizing them (i.e., females eggs laid underneath ACP nymphs and the parasitoid larvae burrow into the nymph to feed which kills the pest) or by host feeding (i.e., female parasitoids stab the nymph with their ovipositor, a tube that they use to lay eggs, and they feed on the body juices that leak from these wounds. This kills the nymph too). Hoddle reminded us, in order for this biocontrol program to continue to be successful, ant populations must be controlled. ACP nymphs produce a white, sugary waste product called honeydew, a good carbohydrate source for the ants, therefore, the ants will protect the nymphs from Tamarixia. His current research showed that when an ant population is reduced, parasitism control increases significantly. Hoddle and his lab will be testing different organic and conventional pesticides for their efficacy against Argentine ants in citrus orchards.
For example, he is in the works of helping produce a more effective ant-bait by working on a biodegradable hydrogel. These hydgrogels are made from algae and crab shells. The material is engineered to encapsulate a 25% sucrose solution with a tiny amount of pesticide and ant pheromone. The liquid bait "leaks" onto the surface of the hydrogel, ants drink it, take it to the nest and slowly intoxicate the queen and nest mates. The baits, about the size of a jellybean, will be engineered to have a certain life time before they "dissolve". He anticipates these jellybean like baits being able to be broadcasted under trees (like you would slug/snail pellets) and the pheromone will attract the ants to them. Once they start to feed, the ants will lay down their own trails to the baits. Mark Hoddle is also the director of the Center for Invasive Species Research, for more information regarding his work on biocontrol, please visit: http://cisr.ucr.edu/.
Victoria Hornbaker, from the California Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program Manager and grower Curtis Pate, also the grower liaison from Imperial gave updates on the current ACP management areas (Fig. 1). Curtis, reminded the growers, ACP is attracted to bright colors, such as yellow. Yellow is a common color for most safety vests and jackets, this creates an issue because most people that own one of these pieces of clothing are unaware that they can very well be unknowingly transporting this pest to different locations (Fig. 2). Basic measures such as rolling up vehicle windows, shaking off clothing
Lori Berger, with the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program gave an update on the Chlorpyrifos Critical Use Project (Fig. 3). The project is a multi-year effort to identify the pest management needs and practices for use of Chlorpyrifos in important crops in California. To accomplish this goal, Department of Pesticide regulation (DPR) contracted with UC IPM program to convene industry leaders to work together to create commodity specific guidelines for specific cropping systems. Chlorpyrifos is used on critical citrus pests such as ants, ACP, scales, bud mite, leafminers and many other arthropods. Growers are required to now obtain a restricted materials permit from their local County Agricultural Commission since DPR has designated the insecticide for restricted use in California as of July 1, 2015. The permit conditions may include buffer zones near sensitive sites, good management practices to reduce drift or offsite movement into the air and measures to reduce runoff into surface waters. For Southern California growers, a more in depth meeting will be held at the San Diego Farm Bureau in Escondido on September 15, 2015, more information on this meeting will available in the near future. DPR hours for laws and regulations will be available. More information on the Chlorpyrifos Critical Use Project can be found at: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/IPMPROJECT/CDPR_Chlorpyrifos_critical_use_report.pdf.
Ben Faber, a UCCE Farm advisor from Ventura/Santa Barbra County gave a great presentation on how to interpret soils/water/leaf analyses and managing water in a drought. Soil and water reports are best used for identifying problems in: 1) pH (power of hydrogen); 2) salinity (how much salt is in the soil); 4) chloride (Cl-); 5) sodium (Na+); 6) boron (B); and 7) sodium adsorption ration. Most of the issues listed can be managed by leaching. Unfortunately, there are no definite measurements for fertility management of perennial crops, however, understanding the fundamentals of interpreting analyses is key for a healthy producing grove. For example, when one is handed a report, many may get overwhelmed by the sight of all these things that are reported. Many of those numbers are only on there because they are required to be there by law and may not have an importance to you as grower when it comes to management decisions. You may ask yourself, what is really important in all this? Faber, gave the growers a quick review, for example, in a water analyses we would want to look for look for some basic ranges in: Boron, this element should be no higher than 1 parts per million (ppm), sodium and chloride no higher than 100 ppm, and the TDS (total dissolved solids), this may also be known to some as EC (electrical conductivity), should be no higher than 1,000 ppm. Simple, right?
When dealing with pH, it is always best to balance that out before one plants trees. Trying to balance the pH after a crop has been established can be challenging and you may run the risk of injuring or killing your trees in the process. Those that would like to learn more on soils/water/leaf analyses and managing water in a drought, you can visit Ben Faber's UCCE County website: http://ceventura.ucanr.edu/Com_Ag/Subtropical/.
Neil McRoberts. Professor of Plant Pathology from UC Davis had interactive question and answer session with the audience, gathering grower's views on approaches of control for ACP/ Huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening disease. The answers to this survey will be helpful in creating a management plan to better help growers with their ACP treatment and preventative planning. Michelle Richey, assistant Director of Food Safety from Ott and Davison Consulting also gave a quick update on Food Safety and Good Agricultural Practices certification. She stressed on how important it is to keep records of everything that happens in a business and to have them accessible.
We had a great turn out and hope to see more growers at next year's Southern California meeting.
- Author: Ben Faber
- Author: Craig Kallsen
- Author: Akif Eskalen
Dry Root Rot is a pretty fantastic disease symptom that is usually seen in lemon, but can be seen in orange, as well.
Craig Kallsen, UCCE Citrus Advisor in Kern Co. comments on a disease sample:
I have seen a lot of dry root rot over the years. It usually is something that damages or weakens the root system which allows a Fusarium species to colonize the rootstock. It is very common in older lemon groves that froze at some point in their past. Also common in groves that suffered a lot of gopher damage or where the wraps got too hot in the sun burning the bark and cambium. I have also seen it in cases of fertilizer or other soil-applied chemical burn. I have no doubt that graft incompatibility could do it too.
Akif Eskalen, UCCE Plant Pathology Specialist chimes in on a disease sample submitted:
As you can see from the attached picture there is a weird callus formation and symptoms of incompatibility at the graft union which I think is the primary cause of decline. We didn't observe any discoloration in the scion, however rootstock was completely discolored where we isolated Fusarium solani the causal fungus of Dry Root Rot. Dry root rot caused by either Fusarium solani and/or Fusarium spp. When there is a disconnection at the graft union, the phloem can not transfer enough carbohydrate to the rootstock to feed feeder roots. Fusarium fungal species are present in the soil and they can attack and easily colonize on starch depleted roots and cause DRR.
We still don't know what is causing the graft incompatibility on these plants. That needs to be investigated.
It's still not clear how and why citrus becomes affected.
UC Riverside and the Citrus Research Board partner to provide:
UC Riverside Citrus Day for Professional Industry members
Thursday, February 20, 2014
8 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
UCR Agricultural Operations, Riverside, California
For information: (951) 827-5906
Please join us for the 3rd Annual Citrus field day designed for citrus growers and citrus industry representatives. Pending approval, we will be offering 2.5 hours of California Continuing Education
Credit for Pest Control Advisers (PCA).
Presentations, field tours and topics of interest:
Pesticide safety – Vince Samons
Update on ACP and HLB in California – Joseph Morse
Phytophthora diseases of citrus – Jim Adaskaveg
Lemon Varieties for the Desert –Glenn Wright
Understanding factors that influence the eating experience in citrus – David Obenland and Mary Lu Arpaia
Citrus Variety Collection tours of new cultivars and “unforbidden” fruits – Tracy Kahn, David Karp, Tom Shea, and Robert Krueger
Update on Citrus Rootstock Field Demonstration – Mikeal Roose
Barbeque Lunch included.
Registration: $18. Deadline: February 14, 2014. There will be no walk-in registrations. We will email directions and updates to all who have registered.
Space is limited so please register early.
Please register online at
To make a tax-deductible contribution to the
Citrus Variety Collection Endowment fund or the Citrus Research Center & Agricultural Experiment Station support fund go to the following link and select College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences then select the specific fund: