Grower Jerkins Revises Stance on Bactericides

Ernie Neff Bactericides, HLB Management


Tom Jerkins

At Citrus Expo in August, Premier Citrus President Tom Jerkins clarified comments about bactericides and their effectiveness that he made at the June Florida Citrus Mutual conference in Bonita Springs.

“In Bonita Springs, I kind of stated publicly it was difficult for Premier to see a difference in the treated (with bactericides) versus untreated,” Jerkins says. “I said it was inconclusive, but I also mentioned that there was a noise in that, which was time of harvest, and that we would go back and try to measure that, which we did.”

Now, Jerkins says, “I’m convinced that if you look at it on a comparison of the dates it was harvested, which takes out some of the noise of fruit drop and a few other things, it seems pretty dramatic that on any given day the treated trials out-produced the untreated trials by a material amount. So from a manager’s perspective … we got about a 10 percent (positive) yield impact on Valencias.”

Jerkins is also president of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation and was a leading proponent of getting bactericides approved for use in Florida citrus groves. In fact, at the Florida Citrus Mutual conference several years ago, he led the crowd in chanting, “We need bactericides now!” Bactericides became available for grower use in spring 2016.

HLB is the most devastating disease the Florida citrus industry has ever faced. The disease, spread by the ubiquitous Asian citrus psyllid, has caused severe loss of production and trees in the 12 years since it was confirmed in the state. Jerkins and many others hoped bactericides would curtail HLB’s adverse effects. A vast majority of citrus growers have been applying bactericides for more than a year, often reducing other production inputs to make room in the budget for bactericides. To date, grower reaction to the bactericides’ impact on trees and yield has been mixed.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large