Populations of HLB-spreading psyllids in groves can be impacted by windbreaks, grove orientation and whether new plantings are resets or solid settings. So says Kirsten Pelz-Stelinski, an entomologist with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
“Windbreaks are one of the best things that you can do in terms of protecting the grove,” Pelz-Stelinski says. She says windbreaks act as a natural barrier to psyllids invading, “but also probably provide some shading of those border rows, which are the most attractive and tend to retain the highest populations of psyllids.”
“The east-west orientation of rows had the greatest abundance of psyllids compared to the north-south orientation of rows,” Pelz-Stelinski adds. “And a lot of that probably has to do with sunglight,” which attracts psyllids.
“When you have psyllids in resets versus solid-set plantings, you’re going to see a greater abundance of psyllids in those solid-set plantings because those solid-set plantings are going to have just a boatload of flush,” she says. “And they’re going to be very exposed to the sunlight as opposed to the resets, which are kind of protected by the surrounding trees,” which provide shade. The implication is that solid-set planting requires more psyllid control than resets.
Asian citrus psyllids were in Florida several years before HLB was discovered in the state in 2005. Since the disease’s discovery, most Florida citrus growers have concentrated heavily on controlling the psyllids because there is no known cure for HLB. Despite the intensive efforts to control psyllids, HLB has drastically reduced Florida’s citrus crops and number of trees and put the citrus industry in jeopardy.
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