Long-time multi-county citrus Extension agent Mongi Zekri, who serves Southwest Florida counties, says individual protective covers (IPCs) work well in the fight against citrus greening, also known as HLB.
“They have been very effective in controlling or managing citrus greening, because they don’t allow the citrus psyllid, which is the vector of the disease, to get to the tree,” Zekri says.
Young trees covered with IPCs come into production faster than young trees without the covers. IPCs also protect young trees from some other pests, including leafminers and aphids, Zekri adds.
“They (IPCs) are becoming more popular, and growers are using them in resetting groves and in solid-set groves as well,” Zekri says. “They are one tool in the toolbox and they are very effective.”
The covers range in price from about $6 for small bags to $20 for larger bags, Zekri says. “The good thing about these covers is they can be used multiple times,” he adds.
Zekri points out that growers who use the covers don’t need to spray for HLB-spreading psyllids while the bags are on, and so save money on insecticide applications.
While the bags are beneficial, they also allow some mites and other pests inside, Zekri says. Nonetheless, he says, “They are economical and very effective and very efficient.”
Zekri also briefly discusses the work he does with citrus growers, which focuses on giving them information “on how to run a citrus grove and how to solve their problems.” He says he organizes seminars, workshops and demonstrations to help get information to growers.
This interview with Zekri is part of the current episode of the All In For Citrus podcast, a joint project of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and AgNet Media. Listen to the full podcast here.
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