Citrusaver Fertilizer Economic Analysis
By Alan Hodges, Ph.D, University of Florida
CitrusSaver Fertilizer is a novel product developed for treatment of citrus greening disease (HLB) that contains a mixture of plant terpenes, growth stimulants humic and fulvic acids, and surfactants to aid adsorption onto plant surfaces. CitruSaver is manufactured in Bartow, Florida by Savory Sun VA LLC (https://www.citrusaver.com/). The product is priced at about $45 per gallon, and the material cost to treat one acre (150 trees) is estimated at around $200. Typically, citrus trees would be treated 4 times annually to control and reverse HLB symptoms.
Field trials have been conducted with the product since 2017 on different HLB-infected Florida citrus varieties by Bob Johnson with AG Consultants, Inc., and with lab tests on harvested fruit conducted by the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center Pilot Plant. The results demonstrate that the product improves root health, increases root weight, number and vigor of new shoots, fruit weight, juice yield, and sweetness (Brix/acid ratio), and reduces fruit drop in treated vs. untreated trees within the first year of treatment.
The table below summarizes the yield improvements and economic benefits of CitruSaver treatments from an 18-month trial on Valencia oranges in Umatilla, FL and a shorter trial on Hamlin oranges in Wauchula, FL. It was estimated that fruit yields were increased by 21% for Hamlin oranges and by 45% for Valencia oranges, compared to untreated control trees, reflecting higher average fruit weight and reduced fruit drop. In addition, treated trees had higher Brix/acid ratio. Overall, treated Hamlin and Valencia trees produced 23% to 42% higher juice solids per acre, respectively, valued at $660 to $1,089 per acre based on the 2018-19 season average prices for juice solids.
The treatment cost of CitruSaver is around $250 per acre for the recommended four annual applications with one ounce of active ingredient per tree. The net value of juice solids produced after deducting treatment costs is 14% to 33% higher for Hamlin and Valencia, respectively.
Other field trials with Valencia and Hamlin oranges and grapefruit groves in Florida have shown a similar pattern of results. Although these results are promising, they should be considered preliminary because of the small sample sizes captured. Further research is needed to determine the optimal treatment rates, intervals, and application methods for different citrus varieties and HLB conditions under commercial settings throughout the state.