A Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) researcher provided an update on grower trials of bactericides for HLB to the CRDF’s Commercial Product Delivery Committee on December 5. CRDF Chief Operations Officer Harold Browning summarizes the report.
“Most of the metrics that we’re most interested in are coming up as we go into harvest,” Browning says. “The true test of whether we’re seeing anything is going to come when we start looking at what the percent of fruit drop is and ultimately the yield, which captures fruit size and number of fruit. Across the 82 field sites that we have around the state, we’ll be collecting those kind of data over the next several months.” Researchers will also be testing for disease levels in trees treated for bactericides versus those not treated at specific sites. “Those (results) are much more definitive than looking at a tree, saying, ‘It looks better.’”
Browning says such hard data “will be forthcoming … in January, when we should be able to start showing what we’ve learned with early varieties.” But even then, he cautions, “We’re not optimistic that it’s going to be a day or night thing after one season of use. This is the first season that people have had a chance to use them (bactericides) in rotation across the whole season.”
“Looking past harvest … next year’s bloom and flush will be good indicators of whether the tree is actually starting to recover,” Browning adds.
The report indicated that the average grower participating in the trials made 4.5 applications of bactericides this year.
At several grower forums this year, numerous growers using bactericides said their trees look better than they have in other recent years. But some of those acknowledged that 2016 was a good growing year with good rains, which they said could make trees look better. Many growers believe the bactericides offer hope in the fight to survive HLB.
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