High temperatures and drought are common stresses limiting crop growth and productivity in subtropical regions where citrus are produced. In addition to impacts on physiological processes such as transpiration, photosynthesis, and respiration, excessive solar radiation can also reduce fruit productivity by inducing physiological disorders such as sunburn. This study evaluated the effects of radiation reflectants and anti-transpirants on leaf physiology, and fruit sunburn in grapefruit trees (Citrus x paradisi Macfs. cv. Rio Red) in south Texas during the 2016 and 2017 growing seasons. Two calcium-based reflectants, and a methene/pinolene-based antitranspirant were foliar applied to fruit-bearing trees. Reflectants reduced fruit and leaf temperatures by 0.2°C and 0.21°C, respectively, while the anti-transpirant treatments increased fruit and leaf temperature by approximately 0.83°C and 0.2°C relative to the controls. Stomatal conductance decreased by 1.3% and 3.3%, respectively, in response to the reflectant treatments, while antitranspirant treatments resulted in decreased stomatal conductance (8.3%) relative to the controls. More sunburned fruit were found in anti-transpirant treated trees in both years (6% and 8.2% for 2016 and 2017) and the reflectant treatments reduced sunburn incidence by 4.9% and 1.8% in those years. These observations indicate that reflectant applications could be a viable strategy to mitigate heat/radiation stress and sunburn in grapefruit.
- Lower Rio Grande Valley