University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences entomologist Jawwad Qureshi discussed several means of Asian citrus psyllid control at Citrus Expo in August. He provides an overview of his presentation.
Qureshi says it is best to start psyllid sprays during the winter dormant period. “Do it individually or do it in a collaborative effort, but you must do it,” he says. Many Florida citrus growers do spray collaboratively by participating in citrus health management areas, or CHMAs. CHMAs allow growers to coordinate the timing and mode of action of sprays to manage them effectively over wide areas. By spraying in the dormant period, “you can reduce the (psyllid) populations tremendously before you get into the spring growth and the rest of the growing season,” Qureshi says.
The entomologist says reflective plastic mulch has proven effective against the insects. “We now have a couple of studies that have shown a huge impact,” he says. “You use insecticides with a mulch and you’ll get almost a double impact in terms of reduction in the psyllid populations.”
He discusses the use of biological control with beneficial insects. He says soap and oil are psyllid controls for organic growers but can also be integrated into non-organic groves’ control programs. If integrated into regular programs, he says, “I think we can reduce the use of conventional insecticides and the cost.”
Asian citrus psyllids are the vectors of HLB; they spread the disease from tree to tree while feeding in groves. Most growers view their control as the most effective way to reduce HLB’s spread. Control measures, especially with spray, have been practiced by virtually every Florida citrus grower since HLB was discovered in the state in 2005.
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