Learn the best way to irrigate citrus orchards

Irrigation management in citrus

This blog carries comprehensive information about irrigation practices in citrus. Here, you will learn about all the dos and don’ts of irrigating your citrus orchards.

A key factor affecting productivity and longevity in citrus orchards is irrigation management. Irrigation is the crucial element of commercial citrus cultivation in the majority of citrus-producing regions of the world. Irrigation is necessary to fully replace soil water lost to evaporation and transpiration.

Irrigation practice in Citrus orchards

  • Irrigation works well on citrus plants. Summer is the most important time to water citrus trees because it lowers soil temperature and increases humidity.
  • In fact, irrigation should be planned in advance so that the plants receive water a few days before flowering begins and again after fruit set. To prevent fruit shrinkage and pulp drying, irrigation application is equally crucial at fruit maturity.
  • Depending on the soil type, watering at intervals of 5 to 6 days in the summer and 10 to 12 days in the winter is quite beneficial. 
  • In areas of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh, where water is scarce, drip irrigation is growing in popularity. 
  • Utilizing a drip system increased fruit productivity, ensured fruit uniformity, and produced fruits of great shape, colour, and edible quality. 
Irrigation practice in citrus orchards
Irrigation practice in citrus

Challenges faced by Citrus farmers

  • The key concerns of citrus growers are productivity and quality. 
  • Lack of water at various times may cause flowers and newly-set fruits to fall off. However, a certain degree of stress during this time raises the fruits’ TSS, juice, and vitamin C levels. 
  • Water stress during the later stages of the fruit growth period diminishes fruit size.
  • Additionally, an uneven bearing is still another significant issue that contributes to low yield. 
  • Moreover, Phytophthora is a serious pathogen that significantly reduces crop productivity due to incorrect watering. Fruit drop is also a significant issue related to water management.
Irrigation practice in citrus orchards
Irrigation practice in citrus

Why do citrus fruits need precision irrigation?

  • Regulated Fruit Size and Plant Growth

Precision irrigation reduces detrimental water stress by providing controlled, regular, and enough watering to the plant roots, which helps to avoid stunted fruit growth and reduced fruit size.

  • Managed Inputs

Precision irrigation makes the best use of resources since it applies fertilizers and water directly to the roots of plants, preventing waste. This also prevents leaching and evaporation.

  • Constantly efficient management

Remote management of irrigation and plant nutrition is made more accessible by digitalization. This refers to streamlining agricultural operations to obtain real-time field data, reduce labour costs, and lessen operational hassles, complexities, and expenses.

  • Improved Disease Management

Gummosis, Canker, and anthracnose are dangerous diseases that can be prevented by providing sufficient nutrients, the best fertilizers for citrus trees, and water supplies to the crop roots.

  • Successful Bahar Management

Citrus must be thoroughly treated (stress treated) to begin blossoming because it is an evergreen plant. In this case, drip irrigation is a good choice since it allows farmers to quickly facilitate stress treatment as effectively as possible. Better management of Bahar is the outcome.

Precision irrigation  in citrus orchards
Precision irrigation in citrus

Amount of irrigation required at various stages of citrus cultivation.

Citrus tree growth can be separated into two stages: vegetative and reproductive. The development of roots, stems, leaves, and new flushes are all examples of vegetative growth. Flower bud initiation, differentiation, flowering, fruit setting, and fruit development are all examples of reproductive growth. Below is a summary of the various stages’ water requirements.

  • Fruit Set, Flowering, and New Flush Development Stage 

Maximum soil moisture is necessary at this growth stage. The flush is shortened and leaves are smaller when there is even a little water shortage. A severe water shortage causes insufficient blooming, poor fruit set, poor leaf development, and a high rate of fruit loss. It is crucial to supply irrigation and maintain good soil moisture if rain does not fall at this time. The reading for water tension should be between 30 and 60 Centi Bar.

  •  Fruit Development Stage of Citrus

The physiologic fruit drop comes to an end at this point. The remaining fruits start to form, and the leaves on the new flushes fully develop.

Citrus trees require the most water during the last stages of fruit development. This is due to the high rate of transpiration, especially at this time of year when temperatures are high. Lack of water would affect photosynthesis, and the fruit at this time has very high water needs. At this point, the water tension reading should fall between 60 and 90 Centi Bar.

  • Fruit Maturation Phase

It is not the quantity of fruit at this stage of fruit development that matters most, but rather its quality. The vegetative growth of plants is encouraged by high soil moisture levels. This is detrimental to fruit quality and flower initiation. Soil should be kept reasonably dry and unirrigated in order to reduce vegetative growth and enhance reproductive growth.

  • After the harvest of citrus fruits

The tree needs a small quantity of irrigation to promote tree development after the fruit is picked. A small irrigation water supply will aid in increased photosynthesis in the leaves. Additionally, it will prevent nutrition and water stress and encourage flower distinction.

How Fasal manages irrigation in Citrus Orchards

  • The kind of soil, region, humidity, stage of the crop, Bahar/season, etc, all have an impact on how much water the citrus crop needs. Citrus crop water requirements cannot be determined based only on one or two factors.
  • Fasal is a thorough collection of agricultural intelligence tools that maintains track of all these factors and empowers farmers to make highly accurate day-to-day decisions on their farms. 
  • Farmers can better plan their irrigation and fertigation by being informed by the Fasal system of any changes in the likelihood of rain over the next 14 days.
  • Every Fasal system has soil moisture sensors that let farmers know when the soil needs to be watered according to crop stage-specific need of water and help them choose the right amount of irrigation water based on accurate soil moisture measurements.

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