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Author Topic: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL  (Read 2803 times)

pineislander

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Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« on: February 14, 2017, 02:04:30 PM »
I'm planning a new orchard to add to the current 50 mango and 50 avocado I already have. My goal is to have a project during my retirement with a diverse collection of tropical fruit and vegetables for home use.
While profit isn't a prime motive, anything I can grow in excess will hopefully pay for maintaining things. I've been growing things much of my life and have owned both temperate and tropical farms which had income. The setting is SW Florida on Pine Island offshore from Ft. Myers near Bokeelia, which is a good frost limiting microclimate surrounded by water and barrier islands. I have 3 acres available, reasonably good elevation, typical Florida sandy infertile Flatwoods soil and the site has a decades long history as a successful tropical fruit grove mainly Mango and Lychee and was previously a tree nursery.

I've decided to do a polyculture during the orchard establishment phase, where assorted inter-crops and cover crops are grown between the trees. Past success on this site has been with trees on raised beds, a pattern which I'll continue. There will be about 3-400 trees of various sizes, some small, some large.

Here is an image of a typical planting:



My questions are about installing an irrigation system for the orchard. I'm very familiar with piping system design and installation from 40 years general industry experience, but haven't done any irrigation before.
Here are some questions:
University of Florida has the following recommendations for water use with microsprinklers:

Quote
Mature trees: average trees need about 20 gallons/day

Question:
I want to design the system to ultimately support mature trees, but at first to support a mixed polyculture of other plants in the beds. I understand that rain days will decrease usage, and best practice on sandy soil is more frequent but short-duration irrigation.
Is 20 gallons/day/tree a reasonable max capacity estimate?

Quote
Microjet sprinklers: (deliver about 7-25 gal/hour) ~15 gallons/hour, best to install two microjets/per tree

Question:
If I install microjets along each 6 ft wide bed, what spacing should I use?
This will depend on how wide the coverage is for typical microjets, can anyone help?


Question:
If I want to selectively irrigate either the beds or the paths between the beds, can I buy microjets which spray 180 degrees and just pull up the stakes and re-orient the jets to spray the direction I want, or is there another option like adjustable spray patterns?

Questions:
Can anyone suggest the best makers and models of durable cost effective microjet sprinklers?
Can anyone suggest the best sources for general irrigation tubing and accessories like filters, meters, etc?


Thanks for any advice you can give!

Cookie Monster

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2017, 02:22:06 PM »
This looks like a question for CTMIAMI.

Your perennial ground cover will creep into the beds. Perennial peanut, for example, will readily grow under and over mulch.
Jeff  :-)

Frog Valley Farm

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2017, 02:41:05 PM »
After not watering anything for a year and watching everything struggle periodically.  I had a 2" artesian well installed, 60 gpm.  I flood my fields using 2" piping placed throughout the grove.  Free flowing high mineral content water.  My 100 plus rollinias and everything else is flourishing.  No leaf drop over the winter.






« Last Edit: February 14, 2017, 02:56:03 PM by Frog Valley Farm »

CTMIAMI

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2017, 03:25:12 PM »
You would want high volume micro sprinklers so you can use them for frost protection. You would need to calculate about .30" of water for the whole field per hour to get decent frost protection. 
I started using micro jets that shoot several streams, not good. Leaves places with no irrigation. Now using the Antelco Rotor, or sprinklers with better result.  They do breake more often but worth it. I use the  20045 Grey .08" at 20 lbs of pressure puts out 35-38 gal an hour  http://www.antelco.com

Mini anything you will need filters unless you have a very strong back and can spent time unclogging heads. Make sure at the end of the lines you can put valves to open every once in a while to purge  the systems. I have valves that do it automatically. 

You may want to consult a professional in the area since systems to work well you need to get to certain pressure etc. 

Also place a tank near the pump so you can  make your blends for fertigation I find that the most valuable tool. 
Best of luck
 
Carlos
www.myavocadotrees.com
zone 10a Miami-Dade County

CTMIAMI

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2017, 03:26:03 PM »
You would want high volume micro sprinklers so you can use them for frost protection. You would need to calculate about .30" of water for the whole field per hour to get decent frost protection. 
I started using micro jets that shoot several streams, not good. Leaves places with no irrigation. Now using the Antelco Rotor, or sprinklers with better result.  They do break more often but worth it. I use the  20045 Grey .08" at 20 lbs of pressure puts out 35-38 gal an hour  http://www.antelco.com

Mini anything you will need filters unless you have a very strong back and can spent time unclogging heads. Make sure at the end of the lines you can put valves to open every once in a while to purge  the systems. I have valves that do it automatically. 

You may want to consult a professional in the area since systems to work well you need to get to certain pressure etc. 

Also place a tank near the pump so you can  make your blends for fertigation I find that the most valuable tool. 
Best of luck
Carlos
www.myavocadotrees.com
zone 10a Miami-Dade County

pineislander

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2017, 03:42:18 PM »
Your perennial ground cover will creep into the beds. Perennial peanut, for example, will readily grow under and over mulch.
I'm considering bordering each bed with a solid row of lemongrass to form a barrier. I know it spreads as a clump but there is also a way to sell it if it does. The border will also keep leaves and mulch from washing/blowing outside and help maintain bed shape. How do you think that will work?

Cookie Monster

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2017, 03:50:24 PM »
Good idea on the flush valve.

You would want high volume micro sprinklers so you can use them for frost protection. You would need to calculate about .30" of water for the whole field per hour to get decent frost protection. 
I started using micro jets that shoot several streams, not good. Leaves places with no irrigation. Now using the Antelco Rotor, or sprinklers with better result.  They do breake more often but worth it. I use the  20045 Grey .08" at 20 lbs of pressure puts out 35-38 gal an hour  http://www.antelco.com

Mini anything you will need filters unless you have a very strong back and can spent time unclogging heads. Make sure at the end of the lines you can put valves to open every once in a while to purge  the systems. I have valves that do it automatically. 

You may want to consult a professional in the area since systems to work well you need to get to certain pressure etc. 

Also place a tank near the pump so you can  make your blends for fertigation I find that the most valuable tool. 
Best of luck
Jeff  :-)

Cookie Monster

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2017, 03:51:40 PM »
OK. Why not mulch the entire lot?

Your perennial ground cover will creep into the beds. Perennial peanut, for example, will readily grow under and over mulch.
I'm considering bordering each bed with a solid row of lemongrass to form a barrier. I know it spreads as a clump but there is also a way to sell it if it does. The border will also keep leaves and mulch from washing/blowing outside and help maintain bed shape. How do you think that will work?
Jeff  :-)

pineislander

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2017, 03:52:11 PM »
After not watering anything for a year and watching everything struggle periodically.  I had a 2" artesian well installed, 60 gpm.
How common is that quantity of water obtainable? I have used flood irrigation from surface water before,
but will have to ask my well driller about that. I found a 2" shallow well 'home drilled' on the property, but will be hiding it away from the well inspectors who consider it "illegal" and would make me plug it. (shhh, don't tell  8) ) I will have to get another well drilled in order to get a house building permit, since municipal water isn't available.

Now in real sandy soil, would flooding like that even work to get water up to tree roots on raised soil?

CTMIAMI

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2017, 03:59:36 PM »
Jeff I got some standard flush valves that would open up with and allowed the system to drain, not to have bacteria multiply inside the poly and flush nutrients at the end. . Then I got a stronger spring replaced all the springs now I can run the pump at 3-5 lbs pressure and the valves stay open so I can really give the system a good flushing when ever I want.
Carlos
www.myavocadotrees.com
zone 10a Miami-Dade County

pineislander

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2017, 04:02:09 PM »
OK. Why not mulch the entire lot?
Mainly because 3 acres is a lot of mulch! I also don't like to mow grass. Your guess about perennial peanut is one possibility I have been looking for, a lot less mowing I've heard. I'm going to look at the experiences of others on how well it works, how easy it is to establish and longevity. Anyone had experience with Sunshine Mimosa?  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimosa_strigillosa

pineislander

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2017, 04:04:39 PM »
Jeff I got some standard flush valves that would open up with and allowed the system to drain, not to have bacteria multiply inside the poly and flush nutrients at the end. . Then I got a stronger spring replaced all the springs now I can run the pump at 3-5 lbs pressure and the valves stay open so I can really give the system a good flushing when ever I want.

So, Carlos I see that with 15 psi that sprayer will throw a 25 ft diameter pattern.
For smaller patterns you use the other colors.
What pressure do you use?
Are you using 1/2" pipe or larger?
How long are your 1/2" pipe runs?
http://www.sprinklerwarehouse.com/Drip-Irrigation-Mini-Sprinklers-p/a20045.htm

How high are your nozzles above the ground? Does anyone sell a 180 degree pattern nozzle?
« Last Edit: February 14, 2017, 04:53:58 PM by pineislander »

Cookie Monster

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2017, 04:43:21 PM »
My experience with perennial peanut is that weeds are able to establish themselves inside of it. So, you would probably end up having to mow it. I assume that this would be the case for other ground cover as well. The other drawback is that it does dry out the soil.

Fruit Freak is filling his 2.3 acre plot with mulch. I understand that he just contacted tree trimmers and had them dump it on his lot. Mulch will give 1 - 3 years worth of weed suppression, depending on various factors. And it builds the soil to boot. That would be my choice.

OK. Why not mulch the entire lot?
Mainly because 3 acres is a lot of mulch! I also don't like to mow grass. Your guess about perennial peanut is one possibility I have been looking for, a lot less mowing I've heard. I'm going to look at the experiences of others on how well it works, how easy it is to establish and longevity. Anyone had experience with Sunshine Mimosa?  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimosa_strigillosa
Jeff  :-)

pineislander

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2017, 04:52:03 PM »
Fruit Freak is filling his 2.3 acre plot with mulch. I understand that he just contacted tree trimmers and had them dump it on his lot. Mulch will give 1 - 3 years worth of weed suppression, depending on various factors. And it builds the soil to boot. That would be my choice.
I'm working on that. They used my place a while back for free gated parking and left everything they chipped.


FrankDrebinOfFruits

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2017, 05:31:10 PM »
Anyone had experience with Sunshine Mimosa?  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimosa_strigillosa


Whats the relationship to mimosa pudica? Referred to locally as hilahila.

Does strigillosa have thorns? The thorns make Pudica nasty stuff here. Here Pudica is very drought tolerant and can grow before grass grows. Later the grass grows and chokes out much of the Pudica, but its still a horrible chore when it comes to weed pulling.  On top of that, it also makes our summer grass + plastic tarp waterslides way less fun for little children.

http://earthmedicineinstitute.com/more/library/medicinal-plants/mimosa-pudica/


Regarding perennial peanut, I have a wild hog problem. I have a theory that they target the perennial peanut, presumably because of the benefits that the peanut offers...but its yet to be proven.  Do you have any wild hogs in FL?
« Last Edit: February 14, 2017, 05:34:10 PM by FrankDrebinOfFruits »

CTMIAMI

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2017, 06:22:51 PM »
Jeff I got some standard flush valves that would open up with and allowed the system to drain, not to have bacteria multiply inside the poly and flush nutrients at the end. . Then I got a stronger spring replaced all the springs now I can run the pump at 3-5 lbs pressure and the valves stay open so I can really give the system a good flushing when ever I want.

So, Carlos I see that with 15 psi that sprayer will throw a 25 ft diameter pattern.
For smaller patterns you use the other colors.
What pressure do you use?
Are you using 1/2" pipe or larger?
How long are your 1/2" pipe runs?
http://www.sprinklerwarehouse.com/Drip-Irrigation-Mini-Sprinklers-p/a20045.htm

How high are your nozzles above the ground? Does anyone sell a 180 degree pattern nozzle?



My runs are 300 feet long
My runs start with 1" poly and then is reduced to 3/4"
I have a pressure regulator for every run 20lbs coming out in the middle of the run 150' on each side I do loose some pressure at the emitters in the end of the run
My pastern  is 360 degrees
You can see the patterns in the catalog, avocados are big trees and the feeder roots spread out and I like the volume to irrigate short periods more frequently, You should too, because of you sandy soil.
I can not over emphasize  the importance of having an irrigation expert lay it out for you.
There are a lot of good emitters today some even you cal use with a small diameter when your trees are small then you brake a tab and get the full diameter when you need them
Carlos
www.myavocadotrees.com
zone 10a Miami-Dade County

pineislander

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2017, 07:40:28 PM »
Whats the relationship to mimosa pudica? Referred to locally as hilahila.
Does strigillosa have thorns? [/url]
Do you have any wild hogs in FL?

No hogs are expected on Pine Island, if they come across the causeway they would probably easily eliminated.
I do know about the mimosa pudica.
The sunshine mimosa doesn't have thorns, it is a native plant.
http://nassau.ifas.ufl.edu/horticulture/demogarden/plants/mimosa.html

Carlos, thanks very much for your advice. I will try to get an expert in on design and none of my runs are planned to be more than 80 feet, and I did see the tab breakoffs on the Antelco line.

FruitFreak

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2017, 09:03:42 PM »
My experience with perennial peanut is that weeds are able to establish themselves inside of it. So, you would probably end up having to mow it. I assume that this would be the case for other ground cover as well. The other drawback is that it does dry out the soil.

Fruit Freak is filling his 2.3 acre plot with mulch. I understand that he just contacted tree trimmers and had them dump it on his lot. Mulch will give 1 - 3 years worth of weed suppression, depending on various factors. And it builds the soil to boot. That would be my choice.

OK. Why not mulch the entire lot?
Mainly because 3 acres is a lot of mulch! I also don't like to mow grass. Your guess about perennial peanut is one possibility I have been looking for, a lot less mowing I've heard. I'm going to look at the experiences of others on how well it works, how easy it is to establish and longevity. Anyone had experience with Sunshine Mimosa?  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimosa_strigillosa

They also spread it with skidsteers.  30cy delivered today :)
- Marley

FruitFreak

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2017, 09:12:18 PM »
Jeff I got some standard flush valves that would open up with and allowed the system to drain, not to have bacteria multiply inside the poly and flush nutrients at the end. . Then I got a stronger spring replaced all the springs now I can run the pump at 3-5 lbs pressure and the valves stay open so I can really give the system a good flushing when ever I want.

So, Carlos I see that with 15 psi that sprayer will throw a 25 ft diameter pattern.
For smaller patterns you use the other colors.
What pressure do you use?
Are you using 1/2" pipe or larger?
How long are your 1/2" pipe runs?
http://www.sprinklerwarehouse.com/Drip-Irrigation-Mini-Sprinklers-p/a20045.htm

How high are your nozzles above the ground? Does anyone sell a 180 degree pattern nozzle?



My runs are 300 feet long
My runs start with 1" poly and then is reduced to 3/4"
I have a pressure regulator for every run 20lbs coming out in the middle of the run 150' on each side I do loose some pressure at the emitters in the end of the run
My pastern  is 360 degrees
You can see the patterns in the catalog, avocados are big trees and the feeder roots spread out and I like the volume to irrigate short periods more frequently, You should too, because of you sandy soil.
I can not over emphasize  the importance of having an irrigation expert lay it out for you.
There are a lot of good emitters today some even you cal use with a small diameter when your trees are small then you brake a tab and get the full diameter when you need them


Carlos can you recommend any irrigation experts?  Just reading this post makes me question my plan to use spitter stakes.
- Marley

Tropicdude

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2017, 09:26:29 PM »
Interesting project,  I think the trick here is to get the right amount of water to the right crop.   I have seen some interesting setups, with manifolds that control water flow to different zones, at specific times. 

As for inter cropping, I love that idea, also when you can get things that work well together,  Lemon grass is good for borders, but consider a none spreading comfrey, you can cut these and use them as green fertilizer.   not sure how "sustainable"  you want to go.  any legume tree, with high biomass production is good for compost, and they are nitrogen fixing.  ( Inga edulis ) or Moringa, leaves can be used for compost and add lots of nutrients, also can be used as a foliar tea spray.

ground covers,  would be nice to get stuff that flowers and beneficial to bees, anything that grows back after cutting, again green manure, and supplies bees, with nectar, just tossing ideas out there,  but  each of these takes planning,
William
" The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.....The second best time, is now ! "

CTMIAMI

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #20 on: February 15, 2017, 07:55:10 AM »
Marley, I know a guy in Homestead but I doubt he is going to take the time and you pay the expense to go to West Coast.  May be he can design and sell you the parts. He works with Israel made products. Israelis wrote the book on fertigation.   He has some cool stuff.  PM me if interested.
Carlos
www.myavocadotrees.com
zone 10a Miami-Dade County

pineislander

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #21 on: February 15, 2017, 09:16:27 AM »
Carlos can you recommend any irrigation experts?  Just reading this post makes me question my plan to use spitter stakes.
What specific spitter are you planning to use?
Generally, you look at the flow the emitter puts out, and select a reasonable flow and pressure you can maintain. On our sandy soils, a high flow over a small area has the effect of going straight down, where a larger diameter area spray will soak the whole root zone.

This is the link I've been looking at for designing.
https://fawn.ifas.ufl.edu/tools/irrigation/citrus/tables/background.php

This image shows the plot as is, it is subdivided by a 'public' unpaved road, but since the road begins and ends on my property there is a gate on the main road which is kept closed to traffic. The existing trees already have irrigation installed.



This shows a preliminary plan for the property. There is a well on the upper side of the road, I'll be drilling another well on the other side of the road. The bold black lines will be 2" pipe mains, and the 2" mains will be connected together as a loop with appropriate valves to separate the loop and direct flow in any direction for redundancy if a well fails, needs maintenance, or a pipe breaks. Laterals down each row will be 3/4" and no longer than 75 ft. The system which is already across the upper side is laid out that way already. They supported a nursery of 20-50 gallon mangos with spaghetti tubing all over to each pot.
This was part of the former Treehouse nursery of Bob and Vivian Murray, the part at the entry gate. Probably many of you have been there.
How does this look?



FruitFreak

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #22 on: February 15, 2017, 10:50:45 AM »
Carlos can you recommend any irrigation experts?  Just reading this post makes me question my plan to use spitter stakes.

What specific spitter are you planning to use?
Generally, you look at the flow the emitter puts out, and select a reasonable flow and pressure you can maintain. On our sandy soils, a high flow over a small area has the effect of going straight down, where a larger diameter area spray will soak the whole root zone.

This is the link I've been looking at for designing.
https://fawn.ifas.ufl.edu/tools/irrigation/citrus/tables/background.php

This image shows the plot as is, it is subdivided by a 'public' unpaved road, but since the road begins and ends on my property there is a gate on the main road which is kept closed to traffic. The existing trees already have irrigation installed.



This shows a preliminary plan for the property. There is a well on the upper side of the road, I'll be drilling another well on the other side of the road. The bold black lines will be 2" pipe mains, and the 2" mains will be connected together as a loop with appropriate valves to separate the loop and direct flow in any direction for redundancy if a well fails, needs maintenance, or a pipe breaks. Laterals down each row will be 3/4" and no longer than 75 ft. The system which is already across the upper side is laid out that way already. They supported a nursery of 20-50 gallon mangos with spaghetti tubing all over to each pot.
This was part of the former Treehouse nursery of Bob and Vivian Murray, the part at the entry gate. Probably many of you have been there.
How does this look?




http://primerusproducts.com/product-information/spot-spitter

They are the spitters I have been using with success.  They are easy to install and don't get clogged to badly.  I was just planning on punching holes in 1" poly with the 1/8" distribution lines to spitters.  I like the low flow (light green) and the high flow (black) 180deg.  I use two spitters for each tree.

In general, is it sufficient to irrigate the rootball or around the trunk?  Wouldn't that keep the feeder roots from spreading around looking for more water?  It makes sense to me this would encourage a tap root development in sandy soil with water perking straight down?
- Marley

FruitFreak

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #23 on: February 15, 2017, 10:56:15 AM »
Marley, I know a guy in Homestead but I doubt he is going to take the time and you pay the expense to go to West Coast.  May be he can design and sell you the parts. He works with Israel made products. Israelis wrote the book on fertigation.   He has some cool stuff.  PM me if interested.

Whats up Carlos.  For some reason I considered fertigation but never really gave it much thought.  Is this something that you would highly recommend even in a very sandy soil environment?  I may not have the funds for a legitimate setup now but want to have the capability in the future.
- Marley

pineislander

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Re: Looking for irrigation advice- new orchard SW FL
« Reply #24 on: February 15, 2017, 03:56:29 PM »
In general, is it sufficient to irrigate the rootball or around the trunk?  Wouldn't that keep the feeder roots from spreading around looking for more water?  It makes sense to me this would encourage a tap root development in sandy soil with water perking straight down?
According to this, at least for citrus, soils which have a high perched water table don't allow tap roots to form. My soil is Myakka, yours is Holopaw, the text refers to both as Podosols and Alfisols, respectively.
Other than citrus, I'm not sure about other trees, but would like to know.

https://fawn.ifas.ufl.edu/tools/irrigation/citrus/scheduler/help.html

In this video, the guy stands next to a Myakka soil and explains what happens at about 2:30.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlZwb4dGbGM

 

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