Integrated pest management (IPM) strategies and copper are both good control measures for common citrus foliar fungal diseases, as well as for citrus canker. So says University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences plant pathologist Ozgur Batuman.
Batuman summarizes information he presented at a fall field day and seminar attended by about 60 people at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee.
“Copper is a protectant, so it has to be protecting your tissue that is vulnerable” to pathogens, he says. “So before the pathogen arrives, copper has to be there.”
Batuman outlines the key elements of IPM. “First, avoidance of course, not to bring the pathogen into your grove,” he says. Avoidance includes starting with clean tree material, which he says Florida growers and nurseries already do. “And … you have to correctly identify the pathogen” and know its disease cycle, the plant pathologist says. “If you know this information, you can come out with really effective solutions.”
According to Batuman, citrus health management areas (CHMAs) can be used to implement IPM against diseases over a wide area. “This (CHMA) is for psyllids and HLB control, but it’s easily extended to citrus black spot, for instance,” he says. CHMAs came into existence in Florida soon after HLB was discovered in the state in 2005. Researchers suggested, and most growers agreed, that the best way to control psyllids and the HLB they spread was to coordinate their psyllid sprays over a wide area. In CHMAs, growers spray at approximately the same times or within close proximity to neighboring growers, and utilize similar pesticides.
Batuman says he’s impressed that Florida growers are great at “being open to new ideas” and using all their resources very effectively. Many Florida citrus growers say they have become better farmers and pay more attention to many details since they have had to deal with the devastating HLB disease.
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