Recent University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) research shows that HLB-spreading psyllids can feed on weeds, and that good weed control can increase fruit yield. The research results were presented by UF/IFAS weed scientist Ramdas Kanissery, who works at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center (SWFREC) in Immokalee.
Kanissery said his work on psyllids feeding on weeds follows up on research conducted by the late UF/IFAS entomologist Phil Stansly and his associates. In his work, Kanissery found that Asian citrus psyllids prefer to feed on Spanish needle, dog fennel and primrose. He said the implication of this research is that when growers spray groves with insecticides, “psyllids can potentially go to those weeds and survive … and come back to the citrus grove” after spraying stops. If the psyllids return to the grove, they can further spread HLB.
Kanissery added that he always checks fruit yields when conducting weed management trials, “because at the end of the day, it boils down to getting a good yield.” He found that if at least 75 percent of weeds in tree rows are controlled, “your yield can be significantly increased.” Managing 75 percent of weeds “is not that difficult,” he said.
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