UF/IFAS citrus scientists Tripti Vashisth and Fernando Alferez are trying to reduce the amount of fruit that drops from Hamlin and Valencia trees prior to harvest. If fruit drops, growers can’t harvest it, and that leads to losses for farmers and less fruit at the market for consumers.
Normally, about 10 to 15 percent of citrus fruit drops from a healthy tree, said Alferez. With citrus greening now prevalent throughout Florida’s citrus growing regions, scientists and growers have seen preharvest fruit drop increase in the last decade, he said. In the 2012-2013 season, researchers and citrus farmers noticed about 25 percent of their crops lost because of greening-associated pre-harvest fruit drop. Now, depending on the citrus variety, growers may see a pre-harvest drop, and it could be up to 50 percent.
The two UF/IFAS scientists are studying many fruit-drop issues. For example, they’re looking into the effect of removing “fruitlets’’ – fruit that’s less than two centimeters in diameter – from so-called “off-blooms.”Learn more about UF/IFAS Researchers Try to Reduce Fruit Drop, Increase Yield in Valencia, Hamlin Oranges.