Using IPM for HLB

Ernie NeffHLB Management

Ozgur Batuman speaks to growers in Immokalee.

“Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet” for HLB, plant pathologist Ozgur Batuman told growers in Immokalee recently, adding that he doesn’t think there will be one. “The best option for such a complex and challenging disease is … integrated pest management (IPM). And our growers here in Florida are actually doing just that. Now they are paying attention to root health, how to put nutrition and how much to put, and when to irrigate and how much to irrigate.”

Batuman, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher, added that growers are also suppressing populations of HLB-spreading Asian citrus psyllids. He said dealing with root health, nutrition, irrigation and psyllid control “are the critical components of this IPM program for HLB.”

Florida growers are also helping manage HLB by selectively removing trees that are unproductive because of HLB and are replacing them with young trees. And they “take care of those newly planted resets very well,” he said.

“We all know that HLB is unfortunately here to stay,” Batuman said in summarizing his presentation at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center. “I’m positive that our growers will do every year a little better” coping with the disease, he said. He added that he believes researchers will continually “bring more missing pieces of this challenging situation” to help growers manage the worst disease they have ever faced. “And I think in the near future we will have better, brighter citriculture here in Florida,” he concluded.

Hear more from Batuman:

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large