Growers who are forced to reduce costs because production has plunged in the face of HLB “can’t give up the fertilizer and the irrigation,” says Beck, a grower and caretaker. “But many of the multiple nutritional sprays, I would cut back on those, and basically just return to more of a conventional program that we would have implemented pre-HLB.”
Beck says HLB-infected groves almost always go into decline, produce HLB-symptomatic fruit and become non-productive. “But if one doesn’t walk away and keeps on at some level administering care, eventually we’re seeing a return back to the positive,” he says.
Beck emphasizes that the experience of Mid-Florida and other growers in no way lessens the need for continuing HLB research.
For years, the Mid-Florida Citrus Foundation’s 150-acre grove, located several miles from Winter Garden, was the site of research projects by University of Florida scientists and others. The foundation sold the fruit from the grove and also charged researchers a small fee to raise income to operate the grove. Some of the scientists stopped doing research at the grove in recent years, and HLB greatly reduced production at the site. Those income reductions forced the foundation’s directors to cut production costs in the grove.
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