With bloom breaking out in Florida citrus groves, plant pathologist Megan Dewdney recommended growers keep an eye out for postbloom fruit drop (PFD). Dewdney works for the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) in Lake Alfred.
“We have actually observed some diseased flowers,” Dewdney said March 3 at an OJ break hosted at the CREC by Chris Oswalt, citrus Extension agent for Hillsborough and Polk counties. “We’ve had several waves of bloom so far.”
Dewdney said the disease was found in groves that had PFD in the past. She recommended that growers who have had previous PFD issues look for infections in their groves.
“PFD really likes leaf wetness as much as it likes rain. Rain helps spread the disease” and also keeps leaf surfaces wet, Dewdney said. “If we get cold weather with the rain, then like last year we should be safe.” But if groves in bloom receive rain during warm weather, “we could be set up for a really bad year,” she said. The disease’s preferred climate is humid and subtropical.
Dewdney said growers can access a website, Agroclimate.org, with a Citrus Advisory System that determines the likelihood of PFD. That system can help a grower determine “whether he should plan to get some fungicide out there,” she said.
Growers might also want to consider removing trees declining from HLB “especially if they’re not producing more than about half a box” of fruit, Dewdney advised. Removing declining trees can reduce PFD inoculum in a grove, she said.
“Keep your eyes peeled and don’t let it (PFD) get away from you if we get warm weather and rain,” Dewdney concluded.
Approximately 30 growers and others attended the OJ break that Dewdney addressed.
Hear more from Dewdney:
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