Grower: What’s Helping, and What’s Not, for HLB

Ernie NeffHLB Management

John Gose

Focusing on nutrients and soil issues is helping Lykes Brothers cope with HLB (also known as citrus greening), says John Gose, general manager of the company’s Citrus Division.

“We’ve seen more benefits in battling greening with the addition of more nutrients,” Gose says. “When I say that, I’m talking about micronutrients in particular.” He adds that the company is also seeing benefits from “conditioning the soil — building the organic matter in the soil, the soil microbe population.” Use of yard waste-based compost is part of the soil-conditioning program. “We started using compost earlier this year … and we’ve already seen some very positive results,” Gose says.

On the other hand, Lykes has discontinued bactericide trials. “Really there was no reason to continue spending the money because we didn’t show where it was benefiting us,” Gose says.

Asked his reaction to the first official crop forecast of the season, Gose says, “I don’t know that we’re going to see the 79 million boxes” of oranges that were forecast. “I think the biggest factor that’s going to impact that (crop size) is going to be fruit size,” he says, adding that fruit size in Florida “is trending down.” He notes that many say they are seeing somewhat better fruit size this season, “but we’ll just have to see how that works out.”

Gose shared his thoughts at a Halloween Day grower forum in Sebring. The forum was hosted by Highlands County Extension Director and citrus agent Laurie Hurner.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large