Two Big Psyllid Questions Answered

Ernie NeffHLB Management, Psyllids


The crowd at the HLB Grower Day filled the room.

Michael Rogers with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) says growers frequently ask him two questions. One is whether they need to continue to control HLB-spreading Asian citrus psyllids even though HLB is widespread in Florida. The other is about the best time to spray for psyllids. Rogers, an entomologist and director of the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center at Lake Alfred, answers both of those questions.

Regarding continuing to control psyllids even though HLB is widespread, his answer is yes. “There are examples, laboratory-based studies, that show that psyllid re-inoculation of plants (with HLB) makes the plants die quicker,” he explains. He also cites a four-year study showing that continued psyllid control “increased yield, and also increased profitability.” Another study showed that when growers participated in an actively working citrus health management area (CHMA), “the gross profit margins are much higher in those CHMAs compared to adjacent areas. So, all the evidence suggests that controlling psyllids is important if growers want to stay in business.”

Regarding the best time to control psyllids in Florida, Rogers recommends focusing on winter dormant sprays that “target psyllids when they are at their lowest population levels.” Another important time to spray psyllids is “just prior to budbreak, or bloom … Try to control the psyllids before we get new leaf growth that allows psyllids to reproduce,” the scientist says. Rogers also discusses some different situations regarding timing of psyllid and HLB control in the north and south regions of Brazil.

Rogers made these and other observations about control of the HLB-spreading psyllids at a recent Grower Day in Lake Alfred. At the event, Rogers and other UF/IFAS scientists summarized scientific presentations made at an international HLB research conference. View the summaries here.

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Tacy Callies

Editor of Citrus Industry magazine