Some Growers ‘Being Squeezed More than Others’ by HLB

Ernie NeffBactericides, HLB Management, PFD


Steve Futch

Citrus Extension agent Steve Futch answers questions following a grower forum in Arcadia on October 27. Growers discussed production, bactericides for HLB and much more.

The forum opened with one grower saying he doesn’t know how much longer he can keep going. Another reported per-acre orange production of 450 to 500 boxes in some blocks – a superb level in the HLB era. “Many growers face many different things,” Futch says. “Their groves are a different age, have a different soil type, and some are doing well and some are doing not so well. But even those that are doing well are not receiving the same amount of boxes per acre that they have in the past. So everybody’s being impacted by HLB” and by associated rising production costs. “Everybody’s being squeezed, but some are being squeezed more than others.”

The growers discussed the bactericides that most producers are applying this year in hopes they’ll reduce the impacts of HLB. “I think most growers are seeing some benefit from applying those,” Futch says. But he adds that researchers and others say multiple applications over multiple years are likely needed to obtain maximum benefits.

“Psyllids were more difficult to control” this year, Futch says. “Most growers are seeing higher numbers. He says weather, continued tree flushing and rains falling soon after insecticides are applied can all contribute to psyllid control problems.

Postbloom fruit drop (PFD) was another topic of discussion at the forum; it is expected to reduce production for many growers this season. At least one grower at the forum said he could see losses of 200 boxes per acre. Futch announced plans to have Brazilian researchers discuss PFD at a meeting in Arcadia in February. He explains why Brazilians are having better success than Floridians dealing with PFD: “I think they’re doing better because they spray more frequently.”

The grower forum was hosted by the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association.

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Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large