University of California (UC) scientists at the Lindcove Research and Extension Center (LREC) will soon begin to test the effect of growing citrus under protective screen (CUPS). CUPS is a proposed new method of controlling huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening disease, by keeping psyllids, small insects known to spread the disease, away from the trees. The test will evaluate the impact of the reduced amount of sunshine the trees will receive.
“We know that citrus loves sunshine, and we want to compare the yields of the acreage in the open with the trees that are in the screened building,” Beth Grafton-Cardwell, director of the facility, explained.
The LREC is dedicating 8 acres to the test. The plot has been cleared and leveled, and is ready for new trees.
“We are planting 4 acres of mandarins in the open, and 4 more acres that are in a screened building,” said Grafton-Cardwell. “The screened buildings are designed to keep the psyllids out.”
LREC is located near Visalia, California, in the heart of the central valley’s citrus-growing region. It is one of nine centers operated by the University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Division.
“We are gearing up for HLB,” Grafton-Cardwell told Citrus Industry last week. “It isn’t here yet, but we know we will see it someday. We are bringing in some mandarin varieties from Florida that seem to do better with HLB for study.”
Several other HLB research projects are either underway or in the planning stages at the LREC, including early detection methods and developing disease-resistant varieties.
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