Growers: Glenn and Mark Beck, Beck Brothers Citrus, Inc., Windermere, FL Crop Advisor: Rob Watson, Griffin Fertilizer Company, Frostproof, FL
Managing 7,500 acres of citrus over a seven-county area in central Florida keeps Glenn Beck, president, and Mark Beck, vice president, of Beck Brothers Citrus, Inc. on the go. Glenn manages administration of the farm and production management in its northern region and Mark takes care of production management in its southern region. The farm was founded by their father, George, who was fertilizer operations manager at a local co-op, so the pair learned firsthand the importance of fertilizers to efficient citrus production.
The 4R practices guide the approach that Rob Watson, sales consultant with Griffin Fertilizer Company, and the Becks follow when developing annual fertilizer application recommendations. They generally apply six, high-quality, dry granular fertilizer applications yearly, but their plan allows flexibility to adjust for weather and growing season changes. This reduces nitrogen application to just 27 pounds per acre and potassium to only 42 pounds per acre per application. Historically, growers would generally apply more than 200 pounds of nitrogen per acre per year. Beck citrus groves are enrolled in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Best Management Practices program.
Liquid fertilizer is injected into micro-sprinkler irrigation systems, which allows fertilizer to be applied to wetted root zones when needed, such as during a drought. If they use fertigation, they reduce the amount of fertilizer applied during the following dry application. Piggybacking on pest control sprays, the Becks are applying nitrogen, potassium, and micronutrients via foliar fertilizers.
Best Practice Management
- Use nitrogen stabilizer for liquid and dry fertilizers
- Use nitrification inhibitor to reduce in-field nitrogen loss
- Individual grove block sampled at tree drip line
- Variable-rate nutrient application
- Implement fertigation on irrigated acres to apply nutrients to the most productive areas of the field
- Use split application of nutrients so plants take them up more efficiently
- Use leaf tissue analysis as inseason nitrogen management tool 20 nutrients applied
- Plant tissue testing evaluates effectiveness of fertilizer program and is used as a diagnostic tool Foliar application of nutrients
- GPS-precision planting gets the right seed where it needs to go
- GPS-precision nutrient application avoids skips and saves on input costs
- Use satellite imaging to help identify yield potential and nutrient management plans