Stuart Gauthier, Schultz, Bruce | 4/21/2005 11:55:25 PM
Two workshops for citrus growers will be conducted in March by the LSU AgCenter.
The clinics, which will provide opportunities for home and commercial citrus growers, are free, and literature will be available at no charge.
The first session will be held at 6 p.m. March 10 in the Cecil McCrory Exhibit Building, located behind the LSU AgCenter’s Vermilion Parish Extension Office at 1105 W. Port St. in Abbeville. It is intended for both commercial and home growers.
Representatives of the LSU AgCenter will be in Abbeville to present information on fertilizers, diseases, insects, citrus marketing, salt management and post-harvest handling of citrus.
On March 16, the second clinic – intended primarily for home growers – will be at 6:30 p.m. in the LSU AgCenter’s Lafayette Parish Extension Office at 1010 Lafayette St. in Lafayette.
Dr. Jimmy Boudreaux, LSU AgCenter extension specialist for commercial vegetables and citrus production, will discuss home citrus production at the Lafayette program. He will cover fertilizing, cultural practices and insect and disease control.
The clinics are timed to coincide with a critical stage in the citrus growing season, according to Stuart Gauthier, LSU AgCenter county agent for horticulture in Vermilion and Lafayette parishes.
"Now is the time that we can actually do something about the problems that result from insect, disease and fertility problems," Gauthier said. "Normally, growers don’t notice anything wrong with their trees until they see problems with the fruit quality in the fall."
Gauthier said spraying and fertilizing plants now can prevent problems later.
"An example of this is the tremendous number of fruit we had brought in with rust mite damage this year," he said. "This mite causes the skin of the fruit to turn a chocolate color. Most of the damage is done in early spring and early summer."
Fertilizer should be applied to citrus from early February to June, and late applications of fertilizer can lead to injury, Gauthier said.
In addition, the LSU AgCenter agent said early spring is the best time to plant citrus.
"The tree will have time to establish itself before the hot summer makes life unbearable for new transplants," he said, adding, however, "Citrus is very cold-sensitive the first year that it is transplanted."
Most citrus types thrive in the soil and weather in Acadiana.
"The major limiting factor to citrus production is cold weather," he said.
The area hasn’t been hit with a killing frost since 1989, Gauthier said, although generally it happens every 5 to 10 years.
Gauthier also said care has to be taken to prevent fungal root rot, and planting in the proper location is essential for success with citrus. He also said every type of citrus can be grown in southern Vermilion Parish, even limes.
"Satsumas and kumquats probably are the easiest to grow," he said. "They are the most cold hardy."