Grower: Don’t Cut Back on Psyllid Control

Ernie NeffCitrus Greening, HLB Management, Pests

HLB, psyllid control

Lee Jones

Gardinier Florida Citrus General Manager Lee Jones, one of several attending a Gulf Citrus Health Management Area Workshop on November 15 in Immokalee, wanted to share a message with fellow growers. The message: Don’t reduce efforts to control HLB-spreading Asian citrus psyllids.

“Everybody’s groves this year are looking a little better,” Jones told Citrus Industry magazine immediately after the seminar. “What I think we need to remember is tree health-wise, the things that we did two or three years ago have affected what the trees look like this year. One thing that concerns me is psyllid populations have increased this year. We’ve done a worse job on psyllid control.” He attributes the increased psyllid populations to much rain falling on the citrus belt this year and the fact that some growers “backed off” of psyllid control.

“I’d like to warn those growers that have backed off a little bit to don’t lose heart,” Jones said. “Keep on pushing forward. We’ve got to control those psyllids … Tree health over time could potentially decrease if we don’t stay on top of those psyllids … Even though your trees look a little bit better this year, and maybe you backed off slightly on psyllid control, remember those effects are not seen right away. It takes two or three years.”

Jones acknowledges that many growers “face that brick-wall budget, so we have to make decisions.” For them, he says, “If you back off something, back off something other than psyllid control.”

The workshop was coordinated by Gulf Citrus Growers Association Executive Vice President Ron Hamel and multi-county citrus Extension agent Mongi Zekri. Other speakers addressed psyllid populations, recommendations for psyllid control, the state’s effort to remove many abandoned groves, and research into creating a psyllid that can’t spread HLB.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large