Crop Protection

Healthy Trees Grow from the Roots to the Fruit

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29 June 2022, USA: Healthy groves start with a healthy, fully developed root system that can withstand the pressures of disease. Plant health is the cornerstone of a thriving citrus grove that continues to produce high-quality fruit from high-yielding trees year after year.

Phytophthora is a soilborne pathogen that can be unintentionally introduced, and re-introduced, through water sources every year, posing a challenge for all producers. This disease can survive for years in groves, making it imperative to prioritize root health that will aid in maximizing fruit quality, yield potential and your bottom line at harvest.

Strong root establishment is crucial to long-term health and grove profitability, especially for young trees that are particularly susceptible to disease. Phytophthora is a silent threat because initial damage is done underground, quietly decaying trees over time. Proactive management practices implemented before any disease symptomology is visible is the sweet spot for prevention and fruitful groves.

“Permanent crops like citrus are different than annual crops. With permanent crops, you don’t get to start over the next year,” says Garrett Gilcrease, Syngenta agronomic service representative in California. “What growers do this year rolls into the next year and the year after that. Problems, especially diseases within the soil, don’t go away if they aren’t treated. Growers cannot afford to leave that potential on the table.”

Maintaining tree health is the foundation of orchard management. With healthy roots and proper irrigation, growers can set up their trees to successfully fight off disease threats. To boost tree health and increase tree longevity and productivity, adopt a robust management plan:

  • Sample 3 times a year: spring, summer and fall.
  • Limit standing water by avoiding activity that compacts soils and avoid over-irrigation.
  • Choose resistant rootstocks when replanting or establishing a new planting.
  • Implement a preventive disease management program, including treatment for root health, such as Orondis® fungicide.

“Phytophthora root rot is tough because it’s not like spider mites or aphids when you see the pest and the damage easily. It’s an underground pathogen choking off water and nutrient supply to the above-ground grove,” Gilcrease says. “Fortunately, there are options available to combat this disease. Orondis® fungicide has the ability to reduce propagules and inoculum by a significant amount, systemically protecting the root system of a tree and improving overall root health.”

This powerful fungicide protects roots by reducing propagule count and inoculum potential, which Gilcrease says encourage strong root development essential to grove establishment and longevity. Healthy root systems lead to better nutrient and water uptake.

Gilcrease points out that maintaining plant health and employing preventive management strategies can help citrus trees thrive year after year. For more information on managing citrus pests for healthier trees, visit Join the conversation online – connect with Syngenta at

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