Scientists from numerous countries attending the International Citrus Research Conference on HLB in March reported on pathology research that might help growers cope with the disease. Megan Dewdney, plant pathologist with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), summarized their reports at the recent Florida Citrus Growers’ Institute.
Dewdney shares the research findings in the current All In For Citrus podcast. She focuses on research that has application to Florida, where the disease has become endemic in recent years.
Dewdney discusses research indicating that when trees are infected with HLB when they are less than three years old, they never really become profitable trees. She says trees infected that early never produce more than a box of fruit a year during their lifetime. She believes growers will do best to replace young trees that are HLB-infected. “My thought is that you should cut your losses at that point,” she says.
Growers have high costs to plant and maintain young trees, so they should be careful of planting near abandoned groves or semi-abandoned groves that harbor HLB and the psyllids that spread it, advises Dewdney. Don’t plant “in a habitat where you’re just putting yourself in a great big financial hole,” she warns.
Ensuring that irrigation water is at the proper pH level is important for growers coping with HLB, Dewdney adds.
She says there was much talk at the HLB conference about the use of microbials, “but nothing very conclusive.”
Hear more from Dewdney and other UF/IFAS scientists who summarized HLB research pertaining to horticultural practices and Asian citrus psyllid management. Listen to the All In For Citrus podcast here.
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