In Focus: Ben McLean III

 

1. We’ve seen interest of foliar nutrition in citrus on the rise in recent years. Describe some of the benefits of a good foliar program whether greening is present or not.
McLean: “An effective foliar nutrition program allows the citrus grower to meet peak nutrient demands during key physiological stages. Meeting this demand optimizes flowering, fruit set, growth, and disease resistance. At flowering, for example, peak demand for nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus is much higher. Excellent foliar nutrition programs can address this need and improve the tree’s floral performance and subsequent yield.”

2. In citrus, have you seen more growers turning to a foliar nutrition program?
McLean: “Yes, it appears the large majority of growers now employ foliar programs to supplement their overall nutritional program. The percentage has increased significantly since the early 1990s. My grandfather was a big proponent of foliar nutrition in his consulting practice and much of what I use and share today came from his observations. During the last four to five years, we have seen the field demonstrations by growers like Maury Boyd and scientists such as Bob Rouse and Hamed Doodstar. These efforts have shown growers can use sound, balanced nutrition and live with HLB for the short term. The results speak for themselves.”

Ben McLean III

Ben McLean III

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3. We hear more these days about plant health and defense mechanisms. In what ways do you see crops benefiting from products that promote these two areas?
McLean: “Products that promote plant health and activate defense mechanisms give the grower the ability to direct his plant’s energy from photosynthesis into the production of specific plant compounds that enhance disease resistance. Crops benefit when good nutrition is used to build a plant’s strength and resistance prior to disease onset. Crops also benefit by being well supplied with the micronutrients necessary for protein metabolism, which is necessary for proper growth and immune function. A good foliar program can ensure these important enzyme co-factors are not missing. Micronutrient deficiencies mean that somewhere downstream, biochemically speaking, an important defensive protein, or antioxidant, or phytoalexin, may not be manufactured, and the plant and its subsequent crop are compromised.”

4. Nutri-Phite has been used in conjunction with KeyPlex in a greening nutritional program. What have you seen in groves where this program is in use?
McLean: “The most important observations are the reduction of fruit drop from HLB and the improvement of the size of the fruit remaining on the tree. Also, we see enhanced new shoot growth and gradual elimination of the micronutrient deficiencies and “yellow dragon” symptoms common to the disease. We have been pleased with the ability to halt the decline in the first year of applications, and then begin to see the tree improve in the next few years. HLB management will be a multiyear approach and program.”