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2024 CitrusBeat! Success Starts Now: Early Season Strategy for a Thriving Citrus Orchard

Updated: Mar 18

As temperatures gradually rise and precipitation becomes sporadic in the Central Valley, the only thing that remains constant in the orchard is change. With water scarcity threats and SGMA’s regulatory pressures mounting, the success of citrus orchards hinges on precise irrigation and fertigation strategies from early stages in the season. Let's delve into the principles for a thriving citrus orchard.


2024 CitrusBeat report # 1 , let's grow!


Information provided by Phytech’s Head of Agronomy, Ziv Attia, PhD and Customer Success Manager and Citrus Specialist Kyle Bates





1. Monitor trees' health & hydration


The orchard is a dynamic environment, so achieving precision in irrigation is paramount for fostering optimal yields and sustainability. Phytech’s plant-based monitoring revolutionizes the approach to water management, empowering growers with unparalleled insights and control over their orchards.



Our methodology lies in harnessing the plant itself. By utilizing the plant as the ultimate barometer for measuring water usage, Phytech integrates various factors influencing water loss and growth. This holistic approach ensures that growers receive comprehensive data on the health and hydration status of their citrus trees, enabling proactive decision-making to mitigate potential yield losses.



2. Targeting Water to the Root Zone


In order to maintain optimal moisture levels and ensure the vitality of the orchard, precise targeting of water to the root zone is a key strategy. Particularly during spring heatwaves, where the demand for water intensifies instantly, it becomes imperative to maintain a delicate balance of moisture in the upper soil profile where the root activity is stronger.


Phytech’s 6-point soil moisture probe plays a pivotal role by providing growers with unparalleled insights into root activity and moisture while they are seeing the plant feedback. By tracking root activity and indicating the precise profile where water has been applied, Phytech ensures maximized water use efficiency at the right time in the irrigation set to promote optimal growth and stress recovery. Whether through pulse irrigation or regular irrigation cycles, Phytech empowers growers with real time data to  optimize water and nutrient use efficiency.





3. Optimizing fertilizer application


Precise timing is essential when it comes to fertilizer application. Utilizing Phytech’s advanced soil moisture probe with temperature sensing capabilities, growers gain invaluable insights into the optimal conditions for nutrient uptake by their  trees.


Ideally, fertilizers should be applied under optimal soil temperature conditions. When soil temperatures are too low, root activity diminishes, leading to reduced nutrient uptake. As water uptake relies on proteins, a basic kinetic-metabolic equation comes into play.


Certain fertilizer products rely on microbial metabolism to become available to the roots. In low temperatures, microbial activity is limited, resulting in decreased availability of nutrients and an increased risk of leaching. Conversely, in hot temperatures, the root microbiome may utilize nitrogen forms as a reducing agent for metabolic processes, rendering much of the applied fertilizer ineffective for plant uptake. 



With Phytech’s soil temperature monitoring and advanced fertigation monitoring capabilities, growers can efficiently deliver nutrients, minimizing waste and preventing soil contamination. By closely monitoring soil moisture and temperature levels alongside plant responses, growers can fine-tune their fertigation strategies with precision, ensuring the robust health and productivity of their citrus orchards.



4. Uniform Water Distribution 


Achieving optimal water distribution is paramount for maintaining a healthy orchard, and it can be realized through strategic placement of irrigation sensors throughout the orchard. With a high density of irrigation sensors positioned across the orchard, growers gain visibility into water distribution patterns throughout their ranches.


Distribution uniformity Before and After using the pressure maps



By harnessing Phytech's irrigation sensors, growers get real-time insights into the efficacy of their irrigation practices, and can guarantee that water is distributed precisely where and when it's needed most. This heightened visibility empowers growers to pinpoint potential inefficiencies and troubleshoot accordingly.



Precision and adaptability are key to ensuring sustainable yields and orchard health. With Phytech's innovative technologies growers are equipped with the tools needed to navigate the challenges of water scarcity and regulatory pressures. By harnessing real-time data on plant health, soil moisture, and temperature, growers can make proactive decisions to optimize water and nutrient use efficiency, ultimately fostering thriving citrus orchards poised for better yields in the face of change.




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