Citrus production in China growing

03.12.2018

By Linda Jiang - In recent years, the citrus industry has been attracting attention in southern China. The introduction of China’s first law to address soil pollution will likely increase this attention in future.

High profits have given citrus growers the capital and recognition of high investment in agriculture inputs, which drives the sale and R&D of the high-tech ag inputs including speciality fertilizers, biostimulants and biocontrol. Meanwhile, technical advancements and product upgrades in those sectors contribute to fruit quality improvement and the upgrade of the fruit industry in China.

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China, Spain, Brazil, India and the U.S. are the top five producers of citrus in the world. In 2017, China citrus production reached 38.16 million tonnes, and the production in Guangxi, Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan, Guangdong, Jiangxi, Fujian, Chongqing and Zhejiang were all over one million tonnes.

There are three main challenges of citrus planting in China:

  1. Huanglong disease. Strategies to control this disease includes destroying the diseased tree(s), controlling hibiscus, balancing nutrition, and using biocontrol to reduce residue levels of conventional pesticides.
  2. Soil acidification and micronutrient deficiencies. Strategies include adjusting the acidity of the soil, improving soil quality, balancing minerals and organic nutrition, and integrating secondary nutrients with macronutrients.
  3. Fruit quality. To achieve better appearance and taste and improve firmness, it is imperative to limit pesticide residue and use biocontrol applications.

Specialists say citrus nutrition solutions need to take into account organic and mineral nutrition balance; a reduction in fertilizers and increased efficiency, macronutrient, secondary and micronutrient balance, biostimulant and nutrients synergy, and biocontrol and nutrition programme synergy.

At present, China is the largest consumer of controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) with the annual growth rate of nearly 10 per cent, and citrus orchards are an emerging market for CRF. The nutrient release duration is between three and six months in citrus planting soil. Field trial results, presented at the 2nd New Ag International China Conference & Exhibition in Nanning City, Guangxi, from 15-17 October 2018, show CRF could increase the yield of citrus plantings by 15 to 26 per cent with reduced fertilizer amount, while producing higher content of soluble solids, higher solid-acid ratio, thicker outer layer (pericarp), and with more citrus suitable for storage and transportation.

As part of its ongoing policy to reduce pollution, the Chinese government recently issued its first law addressing soil pollution, the Law on the Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution, which takes effect 1 January 2019. As a result, agricultural entities, including citrus producers, realise it is increasingly important to learn about the soil, and to apply speciality fertilizer which is helpful for soil regeneration and citrus production.

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