Worried About PFD?
Worry No More
As citrus growers across Florida are beginning to think about Post Bloom Fruit Drop (PFD) and consider best practices for prevention and protection from the ravages it could represent.
“They should pay close attention to the soil as part of their PFD prevention practices,” said Plant City Citrus grower, a fourth-generation grower with 40-years of “hands-on” experience.
“It took me losing the family farm and struggling to survive under the conventional citrus growing model to get me thinking about growing citrus a different way.” Turner says, adding, “It’s all about the soil.”
Wanting to share his success story with other growers about adopting regenerative agricultural practices. Turner said partnering with LidoChem, Inc.’s Performance Nutrition® product line and technical expertise has helped guide the way for his increased understanding.
Performance Nutrition specializes in soil and plant health with a myriad of product formulations now used in a wide variety of crops nationwide.
From a citrus grower’s viewpoint, the soil, with the right balance of biological activity, builds healthier trees. Healthier trees have the ability to fight diseases like HLB (Greening) and Post Bloom Fruit Drop (PFD).
“It’s the ‘good’ microbes in the soil that have the ability to out-compete pathogens and stressors that compromise the trees’ natural defense system“ Turner said. “Now is the time citrus growers are paying attention to PFD. So now is a good time to have this conversation” Listen to Turner explain the role of soil health in this exclusive interview.
PFD is caused by the soil-borne pathogen, Colletotrichum acutatum, that affects all varieties of citrus. According to the University of Florida other risk factors include time of bloom, rainfall, history of PFD in grove, or declining trees due to HLB, blight of Phytophora.
In an effort to better understand how its citrus programs virtually eliminated PFD from the groves it has been treating, Performance Nutrition retained the global research technical company Biome Makers®, Inc. to identify and map the microbial composition in the soil in three locations at two groves in south and central Florida over a four-month period. Analyses of the impact on the soil microbiome of the applications included in the patented Performance Citrus Management Program was performed using Biome Makers’ Gheom® platform and methodology. This includes comparisons between the status of the soil before and after product additions, comparing the evolution of the microbiome of treated and untreated (control) portions of several parcels. The methodology characterizes both bacterial and fungal microbial communities associated with the soil samples.
Key findings include:
- Significant decrease (60-99.9% reduction) of the presence of Colletotrichum acutatum pathogenic fungi in the treated soil, decreasing the risk of Post Bloom Fruit Drop and Anthracnose, helping explain the absence of PFD at the treated groves.
- An evolution of the bacterial and fungal composition of the soil that significantly modified the microbiome composition.
- Increase in microbial biodiversity in the soil where NutriSmart®-B and NutriSmart-WSP together with a high carbon humic acid, Korban®-Zn were applied (soil inoculants that establish proprietary yeast that deliver N, P and K and encourage higher populations of native microorganisms).
- Marked increase in the bioavailability of macro- and micro- nutrients.
- Increase in hormone-producing microbes.
Turner has been working with Performance Nutrition’s line of sustainable soil and foliar products for the last three years. “I’ve witnessed the success on my own small research grove as well as on commercial groves in central and south Florida,” he said.
Turner continues, “I have hands on experience implementing the Performance Nutrition Citrus program managing the agronomic activities in the grove in Vero Beach. It’s nothing short of amazing to see the success and transformation at Unlimited Citrus’s grove. The grapefruit are in nice clusters with virtually no fruit drop and trees that I took for unsalvageable now have green uniform leaves and are producing sweet fruit.”