By Jaci Schreckengost
One of the topics researchers and growers discussed at the 2017 Organic Food & Farming Summit was what can be done organically to combat huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening disease.
Florida Organic Growers hosted the summit in Gainesville. It featured many workshops in which researchers and growers could discuss challenges and management practices.
Tripti Vashisth, assistant professor and citrus Extension specialist from the University of Florida, was in attendance at the citrus greening workshop on September 18. During the conversation, she discussed the importance of combining management practices to better control the disease. She emphasized the importance of controlling the Asian citrus psyllid, the vector of HLB, as well as the importance of managing the soil health.
“You cannot underestimate it (soil) because ultimately that’s where your tree is growing and your roots are growing,” Vashisth said. It is also important to control the pH level in the soil to increase the chances of the plants taking in the most nutrients, she said.
A good irrigation system and a strong nutrition program are also beneficial to the health of the crop. Vashisth says a continuous flow of nutrients available to the tree is the best way to ensure the tree is getting the necessary nutrients. The roots of trees affected by HLB are smaller than trees without HLB, so it is important to have a constant supply of nutrients available for the roots so the nutrients can be taken in at the pace allowed by the size of the root system.
Combining these practices with HLB-tolerant varieties of citrus is an important way to combat citrus greening for organic growers, Vashisth concluded.
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