|Author: ||E. Rabe|
|Keywords: ||Citrus Canopy Management|
Citrus orchards have traditionally been spaced widely, with little or no subsequent canopy manipulation apart from maintenance pruning once overcrowding occurs.
In the cooler production regions of South Africa, with new expansion predominantly in the mandarin types, we are experimenting with different spacing densities as well as support trellising of the trees in a bid to fill allotted tree space quicker, to obtain economic yields earlier in the lifespan of the orchards and to eventually keep the trees more light-friendly.
In the process we attempt to create a "central leader" citrus tree, something which needs to start in the nursery.
Long, untopped nursery tree whips (1.5 – 1.7 m tall) trained to a support system, are performing well in our trials with faster growth at higher topping heights.
This is ascribed to the removal of less nursery-produced dry matter and photosynthetic capacity.
Initial yields on densely-spaced (7-years-old) and trellised (6-years-old) plantings are encouraging and exceed production on conventionally-spaced plantings significantly.
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