Update on Premier’s HLB Efforts

Ernie Neff Bactericides, HLB Management

Harold Browning with Premier Citrus ApZ updates his company’s efforts to make bactericides more effective against HLB. He says Premier is “trying to move to commercialization as quickly as possible a technology to improve the absorption of materials that would kill HLB bacteria in infected trees.”

“One of the challenges we face in trying to get materials into the phloem of trees … is to get past the waxy surface of the leaves,” Browning says. Laser-ablation technology used by Premier Citrus ApZ makes small indentations on citrus leaves, hopefully allowing the bactericides to enter the phloem more quickly and efficiently.

“The ultimate vision for this would be an autonomous machine that would both etch and deliver the material, and do it in a way that’s economically viable and efficient in terms of time,” Browning says. “So we’re working on a series of prototypes to fine-tune the conveyance … that would lead to that kind of an applicator machine.

“Our goal right now is to build several machines this year and put them in service to treat literally hundreds of acres and perhaps even multiple times on Premier property to see the improvement in prototypes, but also start looking at the impact on tree health. And once we’re comfortable with that, we want to get it out to the rest of the industry as soon as possible. So our goal is for 2019 to start making that service available.”

Browning says the company is optimistic about the technology and also knows “that we have very little time to have an influence on those infected trees out there, particularly grapefruit.”

Browning made a presentation at the Florida Citrus Industry Annual Conference in June.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large