Root distribution and seasonal fluctuations under different grove floor management systems in citrus

C. R. Simpson, J. Gonzales, J. Enciso, S. D. Nelson, M. Sétamou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Grove floor management practices play a significant role in citrus physiology, root distribution, and overall tree health. Among the various agricultural practices evaluated in this study, black plastic mesh groundcovers showed increasing soil moisture availability and temperature, as well as improving plant growth and yields. Raised bed practices have also been used to increase soil drainage and porosity to promote root proliferation in compacted soils. While these practices have been primarily studied on annual or row crops, their introduction into grove systems has been slow, even the positive results obtained with these practices. Citrus are managed very differently from row crops, with long-term practices and management techniques often negatively impacting root growth. Citrus management practices using raised beds and black plastic mesh groundcovers have shown great promise in improving citrus production and tree growth. However, few studies have investigated the impact of these practices on root growth and morphology and how these practices affect aboveground growth and production. In this experiment, we aimed to evaluate how different practices affected root growth and how this, in turn, impacted aboveground parameters. To accomplish this, we examined root distribution and in-growth (root growth inside a hand-made core) in four different citrus grove floor management systems; raised bed with groundcover, raised bed without groundcover, flatbed with groundcover, and flatbed without groundcover at various times throughout the growing season for three years. We then assessed how each treatment parameter affected root characteristics and how this affected the aboveground and soil measurements. Root analysis with WinRhizo® software showed significant differences between management systems. Raised beds with black plastic groundcovers increased root growth and density throughout the study. Seasonal in-growth core data indicated that the period from Fall-Spring showed significantly higher root growth than the Spring-Fall period, indicating seasonal growth and senescence of roots. The Spring-Fall cores were also less influenced by management treatment than the other sampling dates. While short-term growth varied with season, the effects of raised beds with plastic groundcovers positively influenced tree growth, root growth, and morphology over the long-term.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109364
JournalScientia Horticulturae
StatePublished - Oct 15 2020


  • Black plastic mesh
  • Grapefruit
  • Root in-growth
  • Water conservation


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