Fruit Drop in Citrus Current Challenges and Future Prospects

Fruit drop in citrus represents a challenge that poses important challenges for agricultural production. To address this problem successfully, it is essential to understand the causes and mechanisms behind this process and to find effective solutions to ensure crop profitability.

Several factors influence this physiological process, both cultural and environmental. Among the cultural aspects, there are two main ones: the variety and the rootstock. As for the environmental ones, we have: climatic conditions, pollination problems, water stress episodes, diseases and nutritional deficiencies, etc.

The interrelationship between all these factors results in a direct impact on fruit retention, affecting crop productivity. For example, in a variety with a high tendency to drop, a prolonged period of drought may trigger premature fruit drop, while in a variety with high resistance, the impact of lack of water may be minimal.

Hormones and fruit retention.

Plant hormones, such as gibberellins, auxins and cytokinins, play a crucial role in citrus fruit development and, consequently, in fruit drop. In fact, the most important parameter to induce fruit drop is the gradient between ethylene and auxins at the level of the peduncle (include link), which joins the fruit to the stem.

Gibberellins promote cell growth and elongation, influencing fruit retention, while auxins and cytokinins can modulate fruit abscission by influencing the formation of the abscission layer on the peduncle.

Based on this principle, synthetic auxins, such as 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and Dichlorprop (2,4-DP), are traditionally used in agriculture to reduce premature fruit drop. These substances are highly effective when applied in specific concentrations and always at the right time. Otherwise, misuse of these tools can cause great damage to the crop.

Biostimulants and their role in reducing fruit drop.

Biostimulants are solutions, generally of natural or organic origin, based on bioactive compounds that promote plant growth and development, strengthening, among other things, crop resistance to stress. These products contain seaweed extracts, amino acids or other compounds that complement each other and can achieve very specific and concrete objectives.

Currently, there are biostimulants specifically designed to solve citrus fruit drop. These products have several advantages, such as the absence of residues, their versatility, as they can be applied during any stage of crop development, and their completely organic nature, which makes them suitable for both conventional and organic farming.

These natural solutions are an effective and real alternative to the chemical solutions currently available on the market, and are vital to meet the sustainability, quality and production challenges facing citrus growers today.

Fruit drop in citrus is a critical factor in agricultural production and is influenced by a complex interaction between hormonal, farm management and environmental factors. Understanding all these factors and the role that each one of them plays in the process of fruit drop, allows us to face in an efficient and safe way, with organic solutions, a problem that until now has been covered only by synthetic hormones, maintaining quality and production.