University of California

Severe copper deficiency in orchard grapefruit trees


G. R. Bradford
R. B. Harding
M. P. Miller

Authors Affiliations

G. R. Bradford was Associate Specialist in the Experiment Station, Riverside; R. B. Harding was Associate Chemist in the Experiment Station, Riverside; M. P. Miller was Agriculturist in the Extension Service, Riverside.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 35(12):323-327. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v35n12p323. March 1964.

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In the winter of 1958 several grapefruit orchards near Hemet, California, developed severe copper deficiency symptoms. Because this deficiency is rarely seen in the field in California, its appearance in severe form presented an excellent opportunity for study of the diagnostic symptoms, for laboratory verification through leaf and soil analysis, and for field correction of the deficiency. This paper is a report of copper-deficiency symptoms as they appeared in the grapefruit, and of the use of sprays to achieve full recovery.

Materials and Methods
Experimental Orchards

The three grapefruit orchards studied are located on Hanford sandy loam soil. Orchard A comprised 27 acres of Ruby red grapefruit scion on rough lemon rootstock, while orchard B comprised about 10 acres of Marsh grapefruit scion on rough lemon rootstock. Adjacent to these 10 acres of grapefruit were about 5 acres of Valencia oranges (orchard C) on rough lemon rootstock. Orchard D was a poor-appearing young grapefruit orchard (rootstock unknown) located about a mile south of orchard C.

Leaf Sampling and Analysis

Spring cycle leaves 4 to 6 months old were taken from fruiting terminals. In each case 10 leaves from each of 10 trees comprised the sample. Leaves were individually washed in tap water and Ivory soap, rinsed in tap water, and dried with clean cloths; this method of leaf washing has been employed in laboratories of the department of Soils and Plant Nutrition at Riverside, California for many years and has been subjected to thorough testing (Wallihan, 1953).3 The samples were then oven dried at 55° C and crumbled by hand previous to weighing a 2-gram sample for spectrographic analysis. Micro-element determinations were made by the spectrochemical method of (Vanselow et al. (1948)).

Soil Sampling and Analysis

Virgin soil samples of the 6 to 8-inches depth were collected from areas surrounding the orchards showing severe copper deficiency symptoms. Samples were analyzed for total copper by the method of (Pratt and Bradford (1958)).

Literature Cited

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Pratt P. F., Bradford G. R. Separation and determination of total copper and zinc in soils. Soil Sci. Soc. of Amer. Proc. Vol. 1958. 22(5):399-402. DOI: 10.2136/sssaj1958.03615995002200050009x [CrossRef]

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Taylor N. H., Cunningham I. J., Davies E. B. Soil type in relation to mineral deficiencies 1956. Paper No. 32, presented before the 7th International Grassland Congress, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Vanselow A. P., Liebig G. F. Jr. Spectrochemical methods for the determination of minor elements in plants, waters, chemicals, and culture media. (mimeo.). 1948. Berkeley, California: Calif. Agr. Exp. Sta.

Wallihan E. F. Iron chlorosis, what is it?. Citrus Leaves. 1953. 33(1):12-13.

Bradford G, Harding R, Miller M. 1964. Severe copper deficiency in orchard grapefruit trees. Hilgardia 35(12):323-327. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v35n12p323
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