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The Importance of Potassium in Citrus Plants

Mani Skaria, Ph.D.

Introduction.

Potassium is essential for plant, animal and human life. Potassium is important for cellular and electrical functions with a key role as electrolyte (=conducts electricity) in blood. Potassium carries a positive charge. The figure at the right is the symbol of Potassium as per the periodic table. K = Potassium, 19 is the atomic number (=number of protons), and 39.098 is the relative atomic mass (protons + neutrons).

Potassium salts in the form of salt, alum, and potash have been known for centuries. They were used in gunpowder, dyeing, and soap making. They were scraped from the walls of latrines, manufactured from clay and sulfuric acid, and collected as wood ash respectively.

Plant cells contains high concentrations of potassium. The level of potassium is most high in nuts and fruits. The word potassium is derived from the “pot-ash” (plant ashes soaked in water in a pot) – the primary form of this mineral as plant food before the industrial era.

A basic difference between plants and animals

Animals can move. Plants are sedentary.

When a physician advises on protein deficiency, the patient takes the information and make corrective measures for themselves and even for their dependents, including the pets. People and animals can move around Whereas, most plant owners are not plant doctors; they have no clue that that plant needs food and water. As a plant doctor, I consider it an unforgivable sin.

Why Citrus plants need Potassium? Top eleven reasons

  • For the basic functions of sugar and starch formations and transport
  • Enzyme activation

2) Cell division

3) Cell and plant growth

4) Fruit formation

5) Fruit size

6) Fruit flavor

7) Fruit color

8) Helps with adverse weather like drought and cold

9) Helps control the opening and closing od stomata

10) Helps photosynthesis

How do I know my citrus plant is suffering from Potassium deficiency?

  • Yellow to bronze blotches on leaves
  • Yellow blotches enlarge and completely cover the entire leaf
  • Fruit splitting
  • Fruit granulation
  • Yield reduction
  • Spongy fruit (puffing)
  • Fruit plugging (peel removed in stem-end area)
  • Stunted growth with severe deficiency

Specific positive roles of adequate Potassium

  1. Increase yield
  2. Increase fruit weight
  3. Increase juice content and quality
  4. Increase Vitamin C

Specific negative roles of too much Potassium

  1. Increase fruit peel thickness, a negative attribute

Growing trees is fun, but if you want to have delicious, seasonal citrus fruit right away, join the Craft Citrus Club!

Get a curated box of fresh-harvested citrus fruit from South Texas sent to your door every month!

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