Many citrus growers think integrated pest management (IPM) is all about reducing pesticide use. Not so, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences entomologist Lukasz Stelinski told growers recently.
“IPM is a system to achieve sustainable agriculture, and it’s very much based in economics, where a damage threshold or economic injury level is identified,” Stelinski said. Once a threshold or acceptable economic injury level is established, a grower can determine “whether the investment in cost (of applying pesticide) is worth the economic benefit,” he added.
Stelinski said IPM works best in “crops where you can have some amount of damage before there’s an economic injury … Citrus used to be a prime example of effective IPM because prior to HLB, for example, and the insect-transmitted diseases, we could sustain quite a bit of damage and therefore have populations of pests at some levels in our groves without economic consequences.” Some studies have indicated that growers can still break-even economically with some minimal levels of HLB-spreading psyllids in their groves, he said.
Stelinski expressed his views on IPM at a recent citrus insect management workshop in Lake Alfred, Florida.
Many Florida citrus growers used increased amounts of insecticides to kill psyllids in the years after HLB was discovered in Florida in 2005. But many have reduced insecticide use in recent years as they sought room in their production budgets for other products, including nutrients and bactericides.
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