Browning to Take New Role in HLB Battle

Ernie Neff Bactericides, HLB Management


Harold Browning

Citrus Research and Development Foundation Chief Operations Officer Harold Browning will resign at the end of March to pursue HLB control strategies for Premier Citrus ApZ, a branch of Vero Beach-based Premier Citrus. At his new position, Browning says he will work “on further testing and commercialization of strategies to control HLB in the field.”

Specifically, Browning will work with laser-ablation technology. A laser makes small indentations on citrus leaves, allowing bactericide to get into the tree’s phloem more quickly and efficiently. Growers have had access to bactericides for a couple of years, and have used them with reportedly mixed results so far. Browning says it’s possible the technology could be implemented within 12 to 18 months and adopted widely in the industry.

“Probably the most important thing for me is, we’re going to prove that this works or that it can’t work as quickly as possible, so that if it’s successful it can be implemented commercially in Florida as quickly as possible,” Browning says.

Browning also reflects on his work at CRDF over the past several years. “The pace of advancement of the research unfortunately is slower than the advancement of the disease,” he says. “Progress is being made, fresh science is being conducted, and we’re pushing relentlessly to speed up the delivery of the solution” to HLB.

“This industry has survived for centuries because of resilience, and it’s being challenged today as it never has been,” Browning says. He suggests that growers observe and adopt new practices that show progress against HLB. He also urges them to continue to experiment on their own blocks and “hang in there because the industry is going to rebound.”

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Abbey Taylor