In the early days of HLB in Florida, virtually all researchers and growers agreed that nothing was more important than controlling HLB-spreading Asian citrus psyllids. But once HLB had spread to every grove (become endemic), many growers began questioning whether continued psyllid control was necessary. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) entomologist Lukasz Stelinski tackled that question recently at the 2019 Florida Citrus Growers’ Institute in Avon Park, Florida.
“The data we have to date would suggest that knocking the psyllids back under a situation of endemic HLB seems to be quite beneficial,” Stelinski said in summary. Maintaining low psyllid populations in trees reduces or maintains the amount of HLB-causing bacteria “at a surprisingly low level,” he added.
The late Phil Stansly, another UF/IFAS entomologist, had also called for continued psyllid control even when HLB became endemic.
Some growers assumed that psyllid control might not be as important once HLB became endemic, so they cut back on psyllid sprays in recent years. In addition, numerous growers reduced psyllid sprays to make room in their production budgets for bactericides, nutrition programs and other measures to cope with HLB and maintain tree health.
Hear more from Stelinski:
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