Development of Best Management Practices for Fertigation of Young Citrus Tree
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Abstract'Newhall' navel oranges on 'Carrizo' rootstock were planted in Mar. 1997 at the Citrus Agricultural Center. The objectives of this experiment were: i) to determine the effects of N rate and fertigation frequency for microsprinkler-irrigated navel oranges on tree N status, and crop yield and quality; and ii) to develop Best Management Practices which promote optimum tree growth and production while minimizing nitrate leaching. The trees are equipped with a microsprinkler irrigation system. The experiment is a randomized complete block factorial with N rates of 0, 0.15, 0.30, and 0.45 lb N/tree/year, and fertigation frequencies of weekly, monthly, and three times per year. Unfertilized control trees are also included in the experimental design. Each of the ten treatments is replicated five times. The trees were harvested for the first time in Feb. 2001. Fruit were processed through an automatic fruit sizer, and fruit from each plot were further evaluated for fruit quality. Although unfertilized control trees had lower leaf N content than fertilized trees, fruit yield and quality of controls was no lower than fertilized trees. Similarly, there were few statistically significant differences in fruit yield and quality between trees receiving different N rates and fertigation frequencies.