A key factor in the productivity of your farm is proper citrus fertilization. Citrus and fruit trees in general require a certain balance. In this article, we give you some tips on citrus fertilizer schedule: what types exist, how to apply them, and when, so that you can choose the most suitable option and get a better return on your investment.
Organic and mineral citrus fertilizers
Proper fertilization of citrus fruits should combine organic and mineral fertilizers . The former are intended to improve the physico-chemical properties of soils, while the latter will allow you to provide your citrus fruits with the nutrients they need at all times.
The supply should decompose slowly and preferably be composted, although it can also be supplemented with foliar or water soluble organic fertilizers. With this type of fertilization, you will obtain, in the long run, a more nutritionally self-sufficient soil.
When is the best citrus fertilizer schedule?
Although citrus fruits absorb nutrients year round, they are most needed in spring , coinciding with germination, flowering, and fruit set.
At present, it is particularly important to supply nitrogen (N), which promotes protein synthesis and is part of chlorophyll, which affects tree growth and fruit quality. Its deficit generates yellow leaves and smaller fruits , while its excess causes excessive vigor which reduces production and quality , while promoting pests and diseases.
Other nutrients to provide
During the ripening period of the fruits, you should also provide these nutrients :
- Phosphorus (P) to metabolize sugars and nucleic acids. Its deficit colors the leaves and stems purple and produces fruits with thick rind and little juice. Its excess makes it difficult to absorb zinc and copper.
- Potassium (K) to stabilize the yield which increases nitrogen. Its absence causes slow development of the tree and produces small fruits with thin bark. Its excess limits the availability of magnesium and influences the quality of the fruit, which deteriorates sharply.
- Sulfur (S) is vital for protein synthesis. Its absence has consequences similar to those of nitrogen. Curved, pale leaves can be a symptom. Its excess decreases the presence of other elements and can trigger iron chlorosis.
- Calcium (Ca) for the binding of plant molecules and absorption of nutrients. Its absence produces low yielding crops. Its excess increases the pH 6, reducing the absorption of phosphorus, zinc or manganese.
- Magnesium (Mg), to generate chlorophyll. Its deficit is manifested by a partial yellowing of the leaf and by small and acidic fruits. An excess interferes with the availability of calcium.
Methods of application: fertigation and foliar applications
The main mode of application of fertilizers for citrus fruits is fertigation .
Thanks to this technique, which can be done by dripping, sprinkling or flooding, we distribute the fertilizers dissolved with the irrigation water. The nutritional requirements of the land should be calculated based on the expected harvest and, to be more precise, factors such as fertilizer history and fertility tests should also be assessed. As a general rule, the lower the irrigation efficiency, the higher the dose per unit area .
To remedy micronutrient deficiencies, you can use foliar fertilization , but not as the main system.
This method has the advantage of being very corrective, absorbed quickly and in a percentage of up to 90%. For rectification to be effective, you must know for sure which deficiency you want to combat. In this sense, one of the micronutrients that cause most headaches is iron (Fe), the deficiency of which causes ferric chlorosis , which must be treated by the application of iron chelates.
How to calculate the fertilizer requirements of citrus fruits?
Other additional factors that will allow you to adjust the calculation as much as possible to the real needs in the citrus fertilizer schedule are the type of soil, the deficiencies of the previous years, the analysis of the leaves, the diameter of the crown, and the analysis some water.
In addition, it is important to balance the doses of different nutrients, as an excess of one component could inhibit another.
Also keep in mind that the relationship between the amount of citrus fertilization and the harvest is not linear, so assess which dose is most effective in each case.