We were recently approached by a grower who advised that they suspected they had Phytophthora in their orange & lemon orchard. As most farmers would know, Phytophthora is a fungal disease which is soil and water borne. It causes root and collar rot, which means a slow death to infected trees.
The grower’s orchard had been a drought-stressed property and the trees are around 35 years old. These citrus had previously been fed with Bounce Back and Gyganic, but were slowly dying – which is symptomatic of not taking up nutrients due to Phytophthora. The situation can then be further exacerbated because the trees look dehydrated, so more water is applied and the condition accelerates the collar rot, as Phytophthora thrives in moist conditions.
The grower strongly felt that if there was a biological approach in the form of bacteria which could attack the Phytophthora, then that could be the answer, so we provided the grower with one of our yet-to-be-released products to try, being the new hedge fertiliser currently being developed. It has a great level of nitrogen which is designed to really get plants and lawns growing strongly, but it also has a full range of major and minor elements, and importantly has been inoculated with Trichoderma.
Trichoderma is a genus of fungi which is present in all soils. Many species in this genus can be characterised as opportunistic avirulent plant symbionts. This refers to the ability of several Trichoderma species to form mutualistic endophytic relationships with several plant species. In real terms, this means that the Trichoderma will establish a relationship with the tree and attack the fungi which is causing the Phytophthora.
Initially the grower decided to trial on 2 orange trees and was amazed at the improvement after only 6 weeks. Given that result, they then decided to conduct a trial on 40 lemon trees, which will be managed in groups. Some trees will receive our inoculant/hedge fertiliser, others will be given Gyganic and the remainder will have Bounce Back and GOGO Juice applied. As they are in one row, the trees will all receive the same water, light and growing conditions, with the pivotal difference being the fertiliser applied. Initial trial results are looking very positive, and will be closely monitored by the grower and Neutrog’s Microbiologist and R&D Manager, Dr. Uwe Stroeher.