HLB: Learning From Brazil

Ernie NeffHLB Management

Johnny Ferrarezi

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) researcher Rhuanito (Johnny) Ferrarezi reports on a trip to Brazil to learn about HLB control methods. Ferrarezi, who works at the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center, made the trip with former multi-county citrus Extension agent Steve Futch.

“Their disease incidence is way lower than in Florida,” Ferrarezi says. “That really makes a difference how trees look and how they’re holding a crop.” He says per-tree production is better in Brazil than in Florida.

“They still have the policy to eradicate infected trees,” Ferrarezi says. “On top of that, they do very heavy spraying on the borders (of groves) in order to reduce the psyllid movement inside the groves.” The Asian citrus psyllid is the vector of HLB, transporting it from tree to tree.

Ferrarezi says some large companies spray abandoned groves to keep psyllids from getting into good, productive groves. “That management is working on slowing the spread” of HLB, he says. “Very aggressive early control of the vector plays a role in slowing down the disease progression.”

The researchers visited areas where growers apply higher rates of some micronutrients. Ferrarezi says good nutrition management helps some growers stay profitable even in the face of high HLB incidence. “They’re still managing their trees while the research community is looking for solutions for the problem,” he says.

Ferrarezi points out that Futch has taken Florida researchers and growers on several trips to Brazil. “I hope that I can continue that tradition and take other growers to go and explore their production system and perhaps learn more about it,” he says.

This interview with Ferrarezi is part of the latest All In For Citrus podcast, a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media. Listen to the full podcast here.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large