Tom Jerkins, president of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, several years ago led a crowd at Florida Citrus Mutual’s annual meeting in chanting, “We need bactericides now!”
The bactericides, which growers hope will significantly reduce HLB impacts on citrus trees, have been available to citrus growers for more than a year now. Most growers reportedly are using them, at least on some blocks.
Jerkins recently was asked his impressions of how the bactericides are working or may work against HLB.
“In terms of perfect data and perfect representations and really great conclusions, not quite yet,” he says. “Anecdotally, I believe many in the industry believe that there is some improvement.”
Jerkins says data from the registrants of the bactericides indicates that over time, the products can affect the level of HLB-causing bacteria in the tree. Also over time, he says, the registrants’ data indicates that the products “can improve tree health … maybe to where there’s statistically improvement in yield maybe in the second or third year.”
“The summary of all that is, (it’s) looking like it’s going to be impactful,” Jerkins says. “And the question then becomes, by how much? Does it affect yield or revenues by 5 percent, 10, 15, 20? I don’t know. Those answers will be revealed to us, and then it’s up to growers to see what’s the cost of the impact and will the trees continue to improve in the future over time. We don’t know those things. But I will say unequivocally that we’re extremely thankful to have them at our disposal now so we can use them and see if we can get an economic benefit out of them.”
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