University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher Evan Johnson reports that the product Zinkicide appears promising as a management tool for HLB.
“Zinkicide is a zinc-based nanoparticle that is designed to become systemic inside the tree and has high bactericidal activity so that hopefully it can target Liberibacter,” Johnson says. Liberibacter is the causal agent of HLB.
Johnson reports that researchers struggled to transform Zinkicide from a lab-based nanoparticle to an agricultural-grade particle that could be cost effective for growers. “Once we finished that transition, we saw about a 50 percent yield increase,” he says.
Johnson thinks the product will eventually become available to growers, but that requires getting a company to get it registered by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“This is not something that’s going to cure the tree,” Johnson says. “It will become a management tool that will keep the bacterial population low in the tree and will hopefully allow for good fruit production and keep the health of the new growth as long as possible so that the tree can maintain a productive life through profitability for the grower.”
Johnson made his presentation to an audience of 50-plus following the Citrus Research and Development Foundation’s (CRDF) May meeting in Lake Alfred. The CRDF plans to have more researchers that it funds make such presentations to growers and others.
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