Growers Discuss Crop Conditions, Bactericides and More

Ernie Neff Bactericides

PFD, bactericides, nutrition

Laurie Hurner

Highlands County Extension Director and Citrus Extension Agent Laurie Hurner summarizes discussions at a grower forum she hosted in Sebring on Aug. 23. Crop conditions and bactericides for HLB were among topics discussed.

“We heard that the crop is looking good,” Hurner says. “I think people were optimistic, but they were also hesitant in their optimism.” She points out that growers were similarly optimistic at this time last year, just before Hurricane Irma dropped much fruit and damaged many trees in September.

Several growers said rain has been abundant in parts of Highlands County this year, but not in all parts of Florida’s citrus belt.

Bactericides for HLB were discussed, with at least one grower saying he’d seen no appreciable benefit and one saying the bactericides have helped his groves. “They are a tool in the toolbox,” Hurner says. “I think it is an option for growers, and they can choose to use them or not.”

Hurner says before HLB was discovered in Florida in 2005, growers could “almost have a blanket plan” for growing round oranges on the Ridge. “Everybody could follow it.” But, she says, “The big difference today is, it’s very specific.” She says growers need to consider their groves’ location, soil conditions and past production practices in devising production plans. They almost need “a prescription” for each individual grove, she says, noting that “it could be different across the street from where you are.”

One grower at the forum expressed dismay at psyllid resistance to neonicotinoid insecticides, which has developed in many locations recently. “It’s a huge worry for many, many people,” Hurner says.

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Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large