Excess Rains Call for Extra Phosphite

Unusually heavy and prolonged rains have drenched Florida this year. The soils in citrus groves and blueberry groves across the state were saturated for weeks or months. In the past 20+ years in the industry the true "old timers" have not seen anything like it.

When soils become saturated, oxygen is crowded out and anaerobic bacteria gain a foothold. These anaerobic bacteria, which produce a foul-smelling rotten-egg odor in the soil, harm the roots of trees and shrubs.

In as little as four or five days in drenched and anaerobic soils, a tree's root systems can begin to die back and shrink. The damage to the roots and - consequently - to the tree can be considerable. Symptoms of damage include leaf yellowing and leaf drop, fruit drop, wilting, and canopy die-back.

What to Do?

We couldn't stop the rain this summer, but we can minimize the damage from excessive rain to groves, fields, and crops by carefully managing and tweaking nutrient applications from here on out. In fact, our best window of opportunity for reversing damage is now, as new feeder roots begin to emerge as the soil dries and returns to more normal conditions.

The single most important step you can take this month to protect your groves is to provide an extra application of "TKO" Phosphite 0-29-26.

Grove managers and blueberry farmers should put out 1 gallon per acre of "TKO" Phosphite, via soil injection or an herbicide boom. This is a more concentrated application than normally recommend, and is timed later in the year than normal, but the heavy rains and unique environmental conditions demand an adjustment such as this.

Why "TKO"?

The phosphite in "TKO" Phosphite 0-29-26 is very quickly absorbed through plant leaves, twigs and branches when foliar-applied, or is quickly taken up through roots when applied by soil drench or injection.

The phosphite reduces plant stress caused by environmental extremes, including temperature extremes, drought, and excess rain and flooding. Researchers don't precisely know how phosphite reduces harmful stress effects in plants, but it may have to do in part with the thickening and fortifying of the plants' cell walls. Regardless of the mechanism, the positive effects are real and measurable.

In addition, "TKO" 0-29-26's potassium contributes to the growth and development of the new feeder roots. The trees are pushing out these roots now, to offset root losses from the summer. In essence, applying "TKO" now jumpstarts the recovery of both citrus trees and blueberry shrubs.

Mitigate greening and other damage

Any time you reduce the symptoms of stress, you reduce the symptoms and the effects of citrus greening (HLB). By making a late-season application of "TKO" Phosphite in citrus groves, you'll reduce the stress brought on by the anaerobic soil conditions of this summer. You will also help reduce fruit drop. In Valencias in particular, which are a late-season crop, you will improve fruit size.