Grower Input on HLB Research Needs

Ernie NeffHLB Management, Research

HLB research

lee jones

Lee Jones, general manager of Gardinier Florida Citrus, was one of several growers offering suggestions for upcoming HLB research at a recent Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) Research Management Committee session. He summarizes some of the suggestions he and others offered.

Jones notes that several suggestions were made regarding bactericides, which growers got access to in spring 2016. He says growers would like to know the best method to determine the amount of bactericide getting into trees and the best timing of applications, among other bactericide issues.

Innovative methods of controlling HLB-spreading Asian citrus psyllids, including the use of sound as a deterrent, are of interest to growers, Jones says. Determining optimum nutrient levels is another important HLB research consideration, he adds.

“We need some more field-type trials where we can get answers quicker, rather than replicated trials over a 5- to 10-year window, because as a grower, a lot of times we have to go on our gut feeling,” Jones says. “And we need some answers quicker than what has happened in the past.”

Although CRDF has funded many millions of dollars worth of HLB research in recent years, there’s plenty of research yet to be done, Jones says. “It seems like the more we dig into this, the more questions we have,” he says.

Two other growers at the session said Parson Brown outperforms other early-season oranges in the face of HLB. One asked if researchers might determine why.

Psyllids were a hot topic for several growers. One said his company sprayed weekly for psyllids in a new grove and kept psyllids at very low levels, yet trees still became infected with HLB after about a year. Another grower asked whether one psyllid bite infects a tree with HLB as much as 100 psyllid bites infect a tree. It is widely believed that the only means of HLB transmission is psyllids feeding on trees, carrying the disease from one tree to another.

The Research Management Committee will consider the grower suggestions when it recommends HLB research projects to CRDF this spring.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large