Joining Forces with Magna-Bon & KeyPlex

Magna-Bon CS 2005 helped control citrus canker and citrus greening in organic orange trees when paired with KeyPlex

Two environmentally friendly and sustainable products have emerged to help citrus growers fight two of the industry’s most threatening diseases, particularly in oranges, when used together in the same spray tank.

The two products – Magna-Bon CS 2005 and KeyPlex 350 OR – were recently used by Clermont, Fla.-based McLean Family Farms and its Uncle Matt’s Organic orange juice business to combat citrus canker and citrus greening in an orange grove. McLean Family Farms, which grows organic citrus, peaches, and vegetables in central Florida, has specialized in organic farming since 1999. The McLean family has farmed in Florida for more than 100 years.

Magna-Bon CS 2005 is an OMRI-listed copper sulphate pentahydrate bactericide fungicide in-solution formula that offers disease control on a range of specialty fruits, vegetables, citrus, and tree nuts. KeyPlex 350 OR is a micronutrient that aids in the prevention of plant diseases when applied as a foliar spray.

Earlier this year, Benny McLean Jr. and his son Ben McLean III decided to combine the products in one spray tank to treat citrus canker on a five-year-old organic grove of Sugar Belle oranges at their fourth generation-owned family farm, which supplies product to make orange juice for Uncle Matt’s Organic. They had tried other organic products to treat the citrus canker but could not find anything that offered control to improve the trees’ lackluster growth and substandard leaf coloring. So beginning last April and lasting through the end of September, they tried something new: The trees were treated with 100 parts per million of Magna-Bon’s CS 2005 (25.6 ounces) and 1 quart of KeyPlex 350 OR. The mixture was sprayed 100 gallons an acre of mature trees.

While the two products did not cure the oranges from citrus canker (no products exist to cure the disease), McLean III says they provided “significant benefits” in helping to reduce its symptoms, including the bacterial canker infection on leaves and a reduction in micronutrient deficiencies. As a bonus, the two products also helped control citrus greening, which has ravaged the citrus industry in Florida with yellow spotting on leaves and misshapen and bitter fruit since its onset in 2005.

Overall, what we saw was an increase in the health and productivity of the grove,” says McLean III, the Head of Research for Uncle Matt’s Organic. “There was a significant visual improvement in the health and color of the grove.” McLean Jr., who heads the family farm and is also Production Manager of Uncle Matt’s Organic (headed by his other son, Matt), says he noticed a difference in “the look” of the grove after only two days of the first application. “The leaf color was the biggest thing that stood out,” he adds, noting the farm has used Magna-Bon CS 2005 in other growing areas, but this was the first time it was ever used in this orange grove.

McLean III says the business prefers Magna-Bon CS 2005 because it contains a very micronized form of copper, which does not build up in the soil. The micronized copper also doesn’t clog up spray nozzles or sit at the bottom of a tank mix.

“The actual elemental amount of copper per acre that is put down is much less than standard forms,” McLean III adds, noting that Magna-Bon CS 2005 is a solid fit because it helps the farm remain organic compliant. “Over time, the National Organic Program (the U.S. regulatory framework that governs organic food) wants you to reduce your copper use. And if you use it, you have to show that you’re not building up copper levels in the soil.”

McLean Jr. and McLean III wonder – and would like to see further study on – if there’s a synergy between the two products, particularly the copper component in Magna-Bon CS 2005 and the micronutrients and peptides in KeyPlex 350 OR, that causes the trees to “turn on” their immune systems.

Frank Miele, President of Magna-Bon, says Magna-Bon CS 2005 delivers systemic control by penetrating leaves and fighting bacteria in the plant before a disease outbreak occurs. The product also forms a protective barrier of copper on plant leaves to provide even more control against bacteria ever getting into leaves.

While McLean Jr. and McLean III realize they haven’t found a cure for citrus canker and citrus greening, they know they have found hope in controlling the diseases through Magna-Bon CS 2005 and KeyPlex 350 OR.

At one time, McLean Family Farms oversaw about 1,200 acres of organic citrus. But because of citrus disease and real estate development, that number has dropped to about 100 acres.

Thanks to products like Magna-Bon CS 2005 and KeyPlex 350 OR, however, McLean Jr. and McLean III are confident that they can greatly increase their citrus acreage once again.